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Kentucky Attorney General Sues Volkswagen Over Diesel Claims

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Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announced on Tuesday that he is filing suit against Volkswagen -- and its associated brands, Audi and Porsche -- over the company's false claims about emissions on its diesel cars.

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties under the Consumer Protection Act and could provide an option for restitution for Kentucky owners of the vehicles.

The German car manufacturer has acknowledged installing so-called "defeat devices" on its TDI diesel engine models. The software detected when an emissions test was in progress and reduced a car's output of pollutants.

The carmaker marketed the models as "clean diesel," but federal officials have said they were emitting up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxides.

"Volkswagen must be held accountable for its false and misleading promotion and sales of its vehicles in the commonwealth," Beshear said in a news release. "Kentuckians should know that my office will not tolerate such brazen and deceptive behavior."

The affected vehicles are 2009-2015 Jettas, 2010-2015 Golfs, 2012-2015 Beetles and Passats, 2010-2015 Audi A3s and 2013-2016 Porsche Cayennes.

Volkswagen sold 11 million of the TDI models with defeat devices worldwide, including 580,000 in the U.S. There are nearly 3,800 registered in Kentucky, Beshear's office said.

The U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys general in numerous states have filed suit against the automaker over the diesel emissions scandal.

The suit is not the first out of Kentucky over the German carmaker's diesel claims. In September, Louisville attorney Alex Davis filed a class-action suit against Volkswagen. It's one of numerous similar suits around the country.

Davis said Tuesday his case and others like it have been consolidated before Judge Charles Breyer in a San Francisco court. Louisville resident Robert Wagner is representing Kentucky plaintiffs in the litigation.

Volkswagen has also offered a "goodwill package" for owners of affected TDI models. It includes a $500 prepaid debit card, a $500 credit to a Volkswagen dealer, and three years of 24/7 roadside assistance.

WFPL News is partnering with Al Dia en America to provide Spanish-language versions of stories. To read this story in Spanish, click here

Stephen George is President and CEO of Louisville Public Media. Email Stephen at sgeorge@lpm.org.