New Mexico Sues VW Over Emissions Scandal

Land of Enchantment first state to sue carmaker this year; more states sure to follow.

New Mexico Sues Volkswagen
Sam Barcroft / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

We recently wrote about the trillions of dollars in potential fines arising from the civil lawsuit the US Justice Department filed against Volkswagen. One of our primary conclusions: Whatever fine VW is hit with doesn’t matter all that much. It’s just one of many concerns on a list of worries that has grown a little longer now that New Mexico has become the first state this year to sue Volkswagen over the diesel emissions catastrophe.

State Attorney General Hector Balderas took aim at Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche in Germany, plus their US counterparts. The suit, filed in a Santa Fe court, alleges that “Volkswagen preyed upon hard-working New Mexicans who want to protect the environment or save money with fuel efficiency.” Those hard-working citizens first got together on their own last September, lodging a class-action lawsuit filed against the automaker and two local dealers for “emotional distress and worry, and economic loss.”

Balderas levies charges of breach of contract and implied warranty, fraud, and violations of the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act and Air Quality Control Act, a similar menu of grievances as heard elsewhere. The Land of Enchantment joins three other municipal authorities who took their ire at VW to the courthouse last year: Harris County, Texas—which includes Houston—sued VW for $100 million the same month the scandal broke, the state of Texas sued the carmaker and 50 dealers the following month, as did the state of West Virginia. Piling on with the same kind of rhetoric we’ve heard much of and will continue to hear much more of, Balderas said, “It's not lawful to profiteer and breach the trust of New Mexico consumers, and Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche will be held accountable for their deceptions.” The suit alleges that between 4,000 and 10,000 of the fraudulent VW, Porsche, and Audi vehicles were sold in the state.

New Mexico’s state motto is Crescit Eundo, Latin for “It grows as it goes.” That should be Volkswagen’s motto for this whole situation.