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Lawsuits quickly follow VW emissions cheating debacle

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Plaintiff law firms are wasting no time in filing litigation against Volkswagen A.G. in connection with charges that software in its diesel cars was designed so that emissions controls only kicked in when the car was being tested.

While Volkswagen shares are not traded per se in the U.S., American investors can obtain ownership of Volkswagen through American Depository Receipts. ADRs are certificates issued by an American bank representing a share of a foreign stock the bank holds in trust, but is traded on an American stock exchange.

Reportedly about 11 million cars have been affected by Volkswagen allegedly using software on some of its Volkswagen and Audi diesel-powered cars to make them appear to be cleaner when they run in tests than they do on the road.

There have been numerous solicitations of plaintiffs by plaintiff law firms since news of the Volkswagen situation broke last Friday. At least several lawsuits — Reuters has estimated the total to be 25 — already have been filed in connection with the Volkswagen crisis, which has already led to the resignation of the company’s CEO, Martin Winterkorn.

Three complaints alone have been filed, for instance, by Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro L.L.P.

“Hundreds of thousands of consumers put their trust in VW when they looked to its ‘CleanDiesel’ line for an efficient, environmentally conscious diesel option,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, in a statement. “But for years, VW cheated the system. Its TDI line of fast but ‘good-for-the-environment’ cars seemed too good to be true, and they were.”