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State ex rel. Yost v. Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20126
Nos. 2021-OHIO-2121, slip op., (Ohio, 06/29/2021)

The Ohio Supreme Court affirmed an appellate court ruling in a lawsuit concerning Volkswagen’s efforts to cheat U.S. diesel emissions tests. Ohio sued the company, arguing its post-sale tampering with emissions control systems violated the state’s Air Pollution Control Act (APCA). The company moved to dismiss, arguing the APCA was preempted by the CAA. The trial court agreed and dismissed the suit. The appellate court reversed, concluding the CAA evinced “no clear and manifest congressional purpose to [expressly or impliedly] preempt the State’s in-use motor vehicle emission control system tampering claims.” The high court found that the CAA expressly preempted only state and local laws regulating or setting vehicle emissions standards for new motor vehicles and engines, and that the APCA did not fall within the scope of this express preemption because it neither created or adopted any emissions control standards, nor applied to new motor vehicles or engines. It further found that although the CAA contains provisions that applied post-sale and provided the federal government with tools to ensure continued compliance after a new motor vehicle or engine is sold, the APCA did not pose an obstacle to or make it impossible to comply with the federal scheme. It therefore held the CAA neither expressly nor impliedly preempted the APCA or precluded Ohio’s anti-tampering claim, and affirmed the appellate court ruling.