Volkswagen’s painful lesson re not playing fair continues

The news last year that global automaker Volkswagen was seeking a distinctly unfair competitive advantage over its business rivals by intentionally falsifying emissions data on huge numbers of its vehicles over many years was understandably of bomb-shell quality.

That companies need to play fair was served up as a reminder to Volkswagen and reinforced in stark terms by both domestic and international regulators and courts.

Volkswagen’s fraudulent actions were seen as flatly unlawful under state-authored laws and federal legislation in the United States, and deemed similarly in countries across the world with consumers who were ripped off by deceitful company action. Under California law, false advertising is intimately linked with unfair competition and deemed a business tort.

Volkswagen has paid dearly for its unprecedented transgression, and continues to do so, with regulators and courts in both the U.S. and globally making claims on company coffers.

Domestically, for example, the company is on the hook for $15 billion that a California federal judge approved as a preliminary settlement to satisfy the claims of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and aggrieved VW buyers. And additional billions are in play in other regulatory filings.

Other nations have hardly been silent in the wake of the scandal. A recent article addressing VW’s woes notes that an Australian regulatory agency has sued the car company for its misleading conduct. And news surfacing just last month from Germany reveals that a class action-type claim in that country involving about 1,400 claims (and growing) could ultimately cost VW more than $8 billion in additional outlays.

Fraudulent business acts are always a big deal, given that their illegality confers an instant advantage on businesses that operate unfairly vis a vis other competitors and members of the consuming public.

Questions or concerns regarding business fraud, unfair competition, restraint of trade, false advertising, tortious interference with a business opportunity or any other element in the wide universe of business torts can be directed to a proven business and commercial law attorney.

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Jerry L. Freedman

Licensed since 1976

Member at firm Jerry L. Freedman A Professional Corporation

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