Three Volkswagen dealers owned by Illinois-based Napleton Automotive Group have filed a lawsuit against the automaker alleging damages caused by the VW diesel emissions scandal.

The suit circumvents efforts made by a VW dealer council to work directly with Volkswagen AG to avoid dealer lawsuits, according to Automotive News.

The lawsuit filed by Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro is seeking class-action status. The suit accuses VW of engaging in a “criminal racketeering enterprise” with its diesel emissions violations that have defrauded VW dealers. The law firm has also represented thousands of VW diesel car owners in lawsuits against Volkswagen AG.

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The Hagens Berman court document states that the automaker violated state and federal laws designed to protect dealer franchisees. It also claims VW “carried out a systematic, illegal pricing and allocation scheme that favored some dealers over others and illegally channeled business” to Volkswagen Credit, its captive finance arm.

Volkswagen AG is approaching an April 21 deadline to submit a plan to address excess emissions from 580,000 cars sold in the U.S. VW has been in talks with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to determine if a partial fix recall of the diesel cars would resolve the issues; or if the EPA will insist that the automaker offer to buy them back from VW owners.

Automotive News