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VW asks Supreme Court to reverse Ohio diesel emissions ruling

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A logo of German carmaker Volkswagen is seen on a car parked on a street in Paris
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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse an Ohio court ruling that cleared the way for the state to move forward with a lawsuit over its diesel emissions scandal and manipulation of emissions-control systems.

The German automaker previously asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeals court ruling that said two counties could seek diesel-related financial penalties that could total billions of dollars. That request is pending.

In June, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the federal Clean Air Act did not pre-empt state law-based claims that Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is pursuing, or prohibit state oversight after a vehicle or engine is sold, as VW contends.

"This is a major decision that will ensure that Volkswagen can be held accountable," Yost said in June.

VW said in court papers Ohio’s claims "could total $350 million per day, or more than $127 billion per year, over a multi-year period."

Ohio said VW engaged in “deceptive recalls” after vehicles were sold.

VW and supplier Robert Bosch LLC in January asked the U.S. high court to reverse a unanimous 9th Circuit Appeals Court ruling that said Utah’s Salt Lake County and Florida’s Hillsborough County could seek “staggering” damages over updates made to polluting diesel vehicles after they were sold.

The U.S. Supreme Court in April invited the Justice Department to offer its views on the issue.

VW admitted in 2015 to secretly using illegal software to evade emissions rules, and pleaded guilty in 2017 to conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Volkswagen settled actions prompted by the emissions scandal for more than $20 billion, but that did not shield it from local and state government liability, the appeals court found.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who ruled in VW’s favor in 2018, noted the automaker’s “potential penalties could reach $30.6 million per day and $11.2 billion per year” in the case involving the two counties.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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