SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Local Volkswagen drivers didn't wait long to contact attorneys.
Attorney Barry Cappello filed a class-action lawsuit Monday on behalf of six Santa Barbara County Volkswagen diesel owners.
On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused the German automaker of rigging emissions tests to make cars pass pollution tests between 2009 and 2015. The CEO issued an apology.
But Cappello said VW and Audi owners face the loss of vehicle value, and resale opportunities. The lawsuit also names Santa Barbara Volkswagen. The dealership chose not to comment on the case.
Clean air crusaders Peter Mock and John German discovered the problem by accident. They were testing cars in an effort to prove the clean air efficiency of diesel cars, but they discovered higher Volkswagen emissions instead.
They contacted the EPA with their findings. It appears a device was being used to turn on the full emissions controls only during emissions testing.
"We chose to file in California State Court here in Santa Barbara because there are California entities that VW worked with to ensure their emissions controls were meeting government standards," said Leila Noël, of Cappello & Noël LLP. "We believe these entities along with the Volkswagen knew the numbers were rigged.
Noël estimates approximately 50,000 Californians have purchased diesel Volkswagens with the defeat device.
Also named in the lawsuit are Solazyme in South San Francisco and Amyris, based in Emeryville. The California companies measured environmental impacts of TDI® Clean Diesel technology found in 2012 diesel Volkswagen models.
The lawsuit is charging the defendants with fraudulent concealment, violation of California's False Advertising Act, violations of California's Unfair Competition Law and other causes of action.
Volkswagen opens a $27 millions dollar emissions testing facility on Del Norte Blvd. in Oxnard in 2012. It is not clear if the center is linked to the scandal.