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The first of what will likely be many lawsuits has been filed against Volkswagen for diesel emissions fraud.

Girard Gibbs LLP has filed a class action lawsuit against Volkswagen, alleging that the German automaker intentionally installed software on diesel vehicles designed to cheat emissions tests. The firm states that Volkswagen allegedly admitted to federal regulators that its diesel vehicles are equipped with software designed to circumvent emissions tests, stating that the software detects when the vehicles are undergoing testing and automatically engages the vehicles’ pollution controls.

When the affected diesel vehicles are not being tested, the TDI models operate in a 'road calibration' mode that doesn’t use pollution controls.

In a statement the firm said it intends to, 'hold the auto manufacturer accountable for its unlawful conduct that tricked environment-conscious consumers to purchase ‘clean diesel’ vehicles that tested as low emission but in reality did little to protect the environment from air pollution.'

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Volkswagen diesel cars emit 10 to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide.

'These Volkswagen vehicles should never have been sold, and certainly should not have spent the past six years on American roads polluting our air,' said Eric Gibbs, one of the founding partners of Girard Gibbs and the lead attorney on the case. 'It is critical that the civil justice system hold companies that engage in such conduct accountable. Not only does this kind of fraud harm consumers and the environment, it unfairly and negatively impacts competition, which is what drives our free market system. People should not stand for it.'
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