By on April 7, 2016

Volkswagen Wolfsburg

The Napleton Automotive Group of Illinois tread a well-worn path to its lawyers yesterday, this time filing a suit against Volkswagen for damaging its business model.

Three Volkswagen dealerships owned by Napelton filed the suit, which seeks class-action status, alleging the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal amounts to “criminal racketeering,” Automotive News has reported.

In addition to Napleton, the Seattle law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro is representing thousands of individual Volkswagen buyers who are looking to recoup financial losses. Napleton recently sued Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for allegedly falsifying sales, a charge FCA has called a “smear” job.

One element of Napleton’s suit involves the ill-timed purchase of an Illinois Volkswagen dealership just three days before the diesel scandal broke. Napleton’s attorney, Steve Berman, called the situation a “sickening display of VW’s disregard for its dealer franchisees,” adding that the automaker would have known the dealership would soon lose value.

Napleton’s lawsuit flies in the face of recent efforts by a committee of dealer owners who’ve attempted to stop angry Volkswagen franchisees from taking their grievances to court. The committee hopes to negotiate a reparations package out of the automaker.

Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess added his own tepid attempt to calm dealer acrimony at last weekend’s National Auto Dealers Association meeting in Las Vegas.

While Volkswagen faces a new legal challenge in the U.S., the German Federal Motor Transport Authority has wrapped up an investigation into European diesel producers, concluding that VW was the only automaker to install an emissions-cheating “defeat device” in its vehicles.

Volkswagen has until April 21 to outline a comprehensive plan to U.S. regulators concerning how it will fix that country’s 580,000 affected diesels.

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