The United States Justice Department has filed a class action lawsuit against German auto manufacturing giant Volkswagen AG.
According to the civil lawsuit, filed in federal court in Detroit on Monday, Volkswagen violated the US Clean Air Act by installing prohibited devices to impair emission control systems in about 600,000 vehicles.
The lawsuit could cost the German auto maker up to $90 billion, according to a senior Justice Department official.
“The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation’s clean air laws,” said Assistant Attorney General John Cruden, who is head of the department’s environment and natural resources division.
The Justice Department lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, which was established for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.
“We’re alleging that they knew what they were doing, they intentionally violated the law and that the consequences were significant to health,” the senior Justice Department official said.
The German automaker, which has maintained the largest market share in Europe for over two decades, is seeking to negotiate a lower penalty adding that such a large fine would cripple the company causing massive layoffs.