By David Shepardson
(Reuters) - Kentucky sued Volkswagen AG and its luxury units on Tuesday claiming the German automaker's diesel emissions cheating scheme violated the state's Consumer Protection Act.
"Volkswagen must be held accountable for its false and misleading promotion and sales of its vehicles in the Commonwealth," Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a statement.
The automaker has admitted installing diesel emissions software to allow 580,000 U.S. diesel vehicles sold since 2009 to emit up to 40 times legally allowable emissions. It faces a continuing U.S. ban on selling 2016 diesel models.
Beshear's suit filed in Franklin Circuit Court also names VW's Porsche and Audi units and seeks civil penalties for violations of the state's Consumer Protection Act and an injunction barring similar future practices by the company.
Kentucky is at least the fifth U.S. state to sue VW, along with New Jersey, Texas, New Mexico and West Virginia. Harris County, Texas, is also suing Volkswagen.
On Jan. 4, the U.S. Justice Department filed its own lawsuit accusing VW of violating clean air laws and seeking up to $46 billion (32.3 billion pounds).
VW faces a Thursday deadline to disclose to U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco the status of talks over a settlement plan with the Justice Department; California, which issued a separate ban; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A potential settlement could include buybacks and an agreement to repair at least some of the vehicles.
Volkswagen spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan declined to comment on the suit. "Volkswagen's top priority is to identify a solution for the affected diesel vehicles. We continue to cooperate fully with EPA and (California Air Resources Board) to achieve this goal," Ginivan said.
VW faces more than 500 civil lawsuits that have been consolidated before Breyer, who has retained a former FBI director as a settlement adviser.
The automaker also faces investigations by 48 U.S. state attorneys.
The U.S. Justice Department and German prosecutors are also investigating the automaker, which has said up to 11 million vehicles worldwide were equipped with the software.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Gregorio and Andrew Hay)