Attorneys general from three eastern states on Tuesday announced new lawsuits against Volkswagen over the automaker's diesel emissions scandal.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh alleged that VW knowingly sold more than 50,000 cars in their states that emitted excessive air pollution and violated state environmental laws.
The complaints also alleged that VW officials attempted to cover up the scandal — including by destroying incriminating documents — for months after it was discovered by researchers from West Virginia University in the spring of 2014.
“The allegations against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche reveal a culture of deeply-rooted corporate arrogance, combined with a conscious disregard for the rule of law and the protection of public health and the environment,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
Volkswagen told The New York Times that the allegation against top current and former executives "does not bear scrutiny." The company previously blamed the scandal on a group of lower-level employees "whose identity is still being determined."
Some 11 million 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles worldwide — including more than 500,000 sold in the U.S. — included software to manipulate their emissions during official tests.
The lawsuits, state prosecutors said, followed a nine-month investigation by a coalition that included more than 40 states. State lawsuits could substantially add to VW's penalties from the scandal.
Earlier this month, the automaker agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, California regulations and VW owners over software in 2.0-liter engines.
Federal prosecutors are still in talks with the automaker about resolving the smaller number of 3.0-liter vehicles. The company also continues to face a criminal investigation in the U.S.