MONTPELIER >> Vermont sued Volkswagen and its affiliates Thursday, saying the automaker's diesel emissions-rigging scheme violated the state's consumer and environmental laws.
Volkswagen agreed this summer to spend as much as $15 billion to settle lawsuits and complaints about the cheating.
But Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said Thursday the state has rejected as inadequate part of the proposed settlement that would have paid the state about $1,000 per vehicle for violating consumer protection laws.
On a per capita basis, Vermont bought more of these vehicles than any state other than Oregon, Sorrell said, estimating that 3,400 such vehicles were registered in the state as of last year.
The lawsuit was filed in Vermont Superior Court.
Sorrell said Volkswagen, Audi AG, Porsche AG and their American subsidiaries polluted Vermont's air, covered up their wrongdoing to mislead environmental regulators and sold the vehicles at a premium while deceptively advertising them as "clean," ''green" and "environmentally friendly."
"This was not a mistake. This was not a 'whoops' situation," he said. "This was intentional fraud on a massive scale."
In a statement, Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz added: "Cars are responsible for more than half of the nitrogen oxide pollution emitted in Vermont, and the actions of the defendants not only violated our environmental laws, but demonstrate a blatant disregard for the protection of our state's natural resources and health of Vermonters."
The lawsuit seeks penalties for violations of Vermont law.
Volkswagen Group of America Inc. said it's committed to reaching a fair and efficient resolution of remaining federal and state claims in the U.S. It said it received Vermont's complaint and will respond appropriately.
To date, the company said, it has agreed to buy back or modify affected vehicles, create a $2.7 billion environmental remediation trust, for which Vermont is eligible to receive $17.8 million dollars, and invest $2 billion for infrastructure and awareness to increase the use of zero emission vehicles across the U.S.
Only one other state — New Jersey — has filed alleged violations of both consumer protection and environmental protection laws, Sorrell said. A handful of states have filed complaints for one or the other.