Firm partners Benny Agosto, Jr. and Mo Aziz of the Houston law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner have been retained by Harris County to join a team of lawyers who have filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen Group of America Inc. and Audi of America, LLC. Harris County filed the lawsuit against the car manufacturer claiming that emissions from 6,000 diesel cars circulating on roadways in the region have caused harm to the population and environment of the region. This may be the first lawsuit filed by a government entity against the car company since management admitted to falsifying emissions numbers of certain cars released since 2009..
The Harris County Attorney’s Office appointed three law firms, including Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, to handle this important case. Harris County is seeking $100 million in damages, but that number could increase as more information about Volkswagen’s fraud becomes available.
Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan said, “Volkswagen’s deceitful acts have damaged the county’s ability to improve a ir quality, reach clean air attainment status and protect our citizens.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the diesel cars were sold with software that could identify emissions tests being performed on the cars and would then falsify results that underreported the extent and type of emissions produced by the vehicles. Because of this fraudulent testing, the cars were producing nitrogen oxide emissions between 10 and 40 percent greater than allowed by EPA standards. Nitrogen oxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to ozone formation and even at low levels has significant health impacts such as intensifying symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. The county attorney noted that funds recovered from the lawsuit could pay for the monitoring and cleanup of air pollution in the area.
Abraham Watkins is also involved in a consumer class action lawsuit against Volkswagen filed in Cook County, Illinois last Friday.