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Judge in Dieselgate MDL, Volkswagen attorneys want speedy resolution to emissions cheating lawsuits

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer, who is overseeing more than 500 lawsuits against Volkswagen in California federal court involving the diesel emissions cheating scandal, says that he would like to resolve the cases quickly because of the 500,000 VW and Audi owners who face an “immediate problem” with their vehicles. Attorneys representing Volkswagen in the MDL have also stated that they would like to resolve the lawsuits against the German automaker as quickly as possible.

Judge Breyer was assigned the Volkswagen multidistrict litigation (or “MDL”) when it was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in December. Judge Breyer made his remarks at a conference last month in his San Francisco courtroom, the first since the Volkswagen cases were transferred to the California court.

Speaking before a courtroom of about 150 attorneys involved in the Volkswagen MDL, Judge Breyer stated that because their automobile may be the most expensive thing they own and because not driving the vehicle isn’t an option, it was important to reach a settlement or other resolution to the VW litigation as soon as possible. “There’s at least half a million people with an immediate problem,” Judge Breyer said. “This case needs immediate resolution of the issues. I’m not suggesting that other people aren’t affected. But the immediacy of the resolution seems to rest with the consumers.”

Judge Breyer also stated that the Volkswagen litigation is different than many other MDLs because of the fact that Volkswagen has admitted to certain facts, which “may give rise to liability for certain classes,” and because of the large number of consumers who are currently experiencing significant problems with their VW or Audi diesel models. These factors may increase the likelihood of a quick settlement or other resolution to the Volkswagen MDL.

In addition to the hundreds of lawsuits filed by Volkswagen or Audi diesel owners whose vehicles were involved in the Dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen is also facing a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department over the company’s fraudulent actions in connection with the emissions cheating. The Justice Department lawsuit accuses Volkswagen of four counts of violating the Clean Air Act, including tampering with the emissions control systems on its diesel vehicles and failing to report these violations to federal authorities. Volkswagen could face up to $48 billion in fines and penalties as a result of the Justice Department lawsuit over the emissions cheating scandal.

Millions of Volkswagen, Audi models recalled over Dieselgate emissions cheating

Hundreds of drivers who purchased or leased a Volkswagen or Audi diesel-powered vehicle filed lawsuits against VW after the company admitted in September 2015 that it had fraudulently misled consumers about the performance and drivability of its “TDI Clean Diesel” models. Following an investigation by the EPA, Volkswagen admitted that it had installed a software “defeat device” on certain diesel engines that was designed to trick emissions testing systems into thinking that the vehicles emitted lower levels of pollution than they actually did. In fact, according to an EPA investigation, the VW and Audi models involved in the Dieselgate scandal emit levels of greenhouse gasses up to 40 times higher than the maximum allowed under the Clean Air Act.

Investigations into the emissions cheating scandal have revealed that Volkswagen knew for years about problems with its diesel-powered vehicles, but continued to market these vehicles to consumers as a eco-friendly, higher-performance alternative to other “green” cars such as the Toyota Prius or the Nissan Leaf. Former Volkswagen CEO, Martin Winterkorn, was forced to resign in the wake of revelations about the extent of the emissions cheating by VW. Subsequent investigations have found that several Volkswagen executives and numerous engineers had been aware of the “defeat devices” that enabled the emissions cheating, but failed to put a stop to the fraud at the company.

Volkswagen has announced that it will recall 11 million diesel-powered vehicles worldwide—including about 600,000 in the U.S.—that were equipped with the defeat device. The company is currently working with the EPA to develop a plan to fix the emissions issues with the recalled diesel models sold in the U.S. However, this fix will likely mean a drastic reduction in the performance and drivability of these vehicles, potentially costing owners significant losses in the value of their cars.

The vehicles involved in Volkswagen’s initial recall announcement included the 2010-2015 Audi A3 TDI, the 2012-2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI, the 2012-2015 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible TDI, the 2010-2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI, the 2009-2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the 2009-2014 Volkswagen Jetta Sportswagen TDI, and the 2012-2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI. In November 2015, the EPA announced that it had uncovered additional diesel models sold by Volkswagen that were also affected by the emissions cheating problem. These models included the 2009-2016 Volkswagen Touareg TDI, the 2014-2016 Audi A6 Quattro, the 2014-2016 Audi A7 Quattro, the 2014-2016 Audi A8 Quattro, the 2014-2016 Audi A8L Quattro, the 2014-2016 Audi Q5 Quattro, the 2009-2016 Audi Q7, and the 2013-2015 Porsche Cayenne.

“TDI Clean Diesel” owners may qualify to file a lawsuit against Volkswagen

Owners of one of the Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche “TDI Clean Diesel” models that were recalled by VW may be eligible file a lawsuit against the German automakers. As Volkswagens admissions in the Dieselgate scandal have made clear, the company knew for years that it was selling vehicles that failed to meet U.S. emissions standards and fraudulently lied its customers by touting the eco-friendly technology of these vehicles.

The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has already filed lawsuits against Volkswagen over the TDI emissions scandal. Our attorneys have tried or settled hundreds of cases involving product liability for our clients in recent years.

For more information about the lawsuits filed against Volkswagen and to receive a free legal consultation from an attorney, contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions about your situation to get started.

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