VW Class Action Lawsuit Updates
VW to Pay State of California $86 Million in Civil Penalties
July 7, 2016
Volkswagen has agreed to pay the state of California $86 million in civil penalties related to the emissions scandal. The agreed-to amount comes in addition to the estimated $14.7 billion settlement the German automaker reached last week to resolve consumer and government claims stemming from VW’s admission that it installed cheat software on diesel model cars.
The emissions scandal became public shortly after a nonprofit organization discovered defeat devices on certain VW diesel models, designed to trigger emission-reducing technology when the vehicle was in a laboratory testing situation. When the vehicles were on the road, the technology was deactivating, allowing for increased nitrogen oxide emissions.
The $86 million going to California is reportedly part of the agreements VW announced last week with 44 U.S. states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico worth a total of $603 million. If the deal is approved by a federal judge, the $86 million would represent the largest amount of money ever recovered by an automaker and would resolve claims under the Unfair Competition Law and the Dodd-Frank Act. According to the Wall Street Journal, the settlement further outlines conditions deterring VW from any future misconduct, including a requirement that VW contractors or employees report the use of any defeat devices to the attorney general.
The California VW settlement relates to an estimated 86,000 vehicles with 2.0 and 3.0 liter diesel engines sold or leased in the state between 2009 and 2015.
Volkswagen Agrees to Pay Roughly $15 Billion to Settle Emissions Scandal
June 28, 2016
Less than a year after the company admitted to installing software on their line of diesel vehicles designed to cheat emissions testing, Volkswagen has agreed to pay roughly $15 billion to buy back affected models and fund environmental cleanup.
VW owners can expect to receive between $5,100 and $10,000 each to cover the lost value of their vehicle. They will have until 2018 to decide whether to participate in the buyback program or have their vehicle repaired, provided the fix is approved by the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The proposed Volkswagen settlement is still pending court approval.
VW Dealer Lawsuit Underscores the Extent of Emissions Scandal
April 6, 2016
First it was Volkswagen owners who decided to sue the German automaker over its now infamous emissions scandal. Next, the U.S. government filed a complaint against VW over Clean Air Act violations. Now, the automaker’s own dealerships are joining the growing list of parties to sue VW.
The VW dealer lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in Chicago federal court by three Volkswagen franchise dealerships owned by Ed Napleton. Brought on behalf of a nationwide class, the VW dealer lawsuit joins more than 500 class actions filed by VW owners, used VW dealerships and other competing dealerships.
The emissions scandal caused harm among franchise dealers, the VW dealer lawsuit claims, as profits have been all but erased with affected VW models dramatically losing value. With plummeting sales and dealership lots filled with cars that are now devalued, VW dealerships are becoming frustrated, with some unwilling to wait indefinitely for the automaker to come up with a solution for the emissions scandal. Mr. Napleton felt that filing the VW dealer lawsuit was the only way to have his and the concerns of other dealers promptly addressed by the automaker.
The VW dealer lawsuit underscores the weight of Volkswagen’s deception, as car dealerships are not in the business of undermining their own sales by tarnishing the brand of cars they sell. According to the New York Times, Volkswagen is currently reviewing the complaint.
Volkswagen Has Four Weeks to Fix U.S. Diesel Scandal
March 24, 2016
Volkswagen has been given four more weeks to come up with a plan to fix 600,000 vehicles in the U.S. affected by the VW diesel scandal. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco set an April 21 deadline for VW to come up with a detailed proposal for fixing diesel engines that were outfitted with software designed to cheat emissions testing. Judge Breyer, who had previously set a March 24 deadline for VW, said if the German automaker fails to come up with a plan by April 21, he may set trial for this summer.
Last month, hundreds of VW diesel owners hit the company with the first consolidated complaint of a sprawling multidisitrict litigation (MDL), claiming the carmaker’s fraud is taking a financial, environmental and human toll. The MDL also includes includes the Justice Department’s lawsuit against VW for Clean Air Act violations.
VW Update: Volkswagen Refusing to Hand Over Emissions Documents
January 8, 2016
One of the refrains from Volkswagen since the emissions scandal broke was transparency—the German automaker has from day one expressed a desire to cooperate with investigators in order to resolve the mess it created by installing software in its TDI diesel models designed to cheat emissions testing.
That mode of cooperation seems to have hit a snag recently, as Volkswagen is reportedly dragging its heels on handing over vital emails and documents among VW executives pertaining to the emissions scandal. According to American investigators, VW has impeded and obstructed the investigation, providing misleading information.
A VW class action lawsuit has begun all over the country and nearly all U.S. states are pursing claims against Volkswagen, with six states leading the investigation. Eric Schneiderman, New York’s Attorney General, told the New York Times that his state’s patience with Volkswagen is wearing thin. The AG added that from his perspective, VW’s cooperation has been “spotty.” Earlier this week, the U.S. Justice Department filed a VW lawsuit on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Investigators have said that VW’s actions are making it exceedingly difficult to identify which employees had information pertaining to the scandal, and finding out exactly who in the company knew about the scandal is vitally important to the ongoing Volkswagen lawsuits. VW’s exposure in these and any broader VW class action lawsuit will likely be greater if claimants can prove that top executives at Volkswagen knew about the cheating software and/or directed the software’s implementation.
Volkswagen has refused to hand over the data to regulators, citing German privacy laws, specifically the German Federal Data Protection Act and the German Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.
According to the New York Times, there are ways that regulators can use to access the information they need for the investigation. For example, the emails could, at least in theory, be obtained from American computer servers, through negotiations with other companies, or through a cooperating foreign law enforcement agency.
Volkswagen Lawsuit: DOJ Sues Carmaker for up to $48 Billion
January 4, 2016
The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen, claiming the German automaker violated environmental laws with its “defeat device” that was installed in the software of several VW 2.0 liter diesel models. The Volkswagen lawsuit could be worth up to $48 billion.
Most of the time, cases like the Volkswagen lawsuit are settled out of court for a fraction of the maximum penalty. What is noteworthy about the DOJ’s announcement is the size of the claim, which likely means that Volkswagen is on the hook for far more than many had previously anticipated. When news of the scandal first broke, experts estimated that VW would face $18 billion or more in fines.
Filed on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the VW lawsuit accuses the German automaker of violating the Clean Air Act by tampering with emissions control systems and failing to report violations.
In September of 2015, VW admitted to installing software in its 2.0 diesel vehicle models that sensed when the vehicle was subjected to emissions testing. During testing, the software activated equipment that controls emissions. When the vehicle was not being tested, the equipment was deactivated, allowing increased emissions far in excess the legal limit.
According to Reuters, the carmaker installed the defeat device on nearly 600,000 vehicles in the U.S., and 11 million vehicles worldwide.
Many consumers who purchased Volkswagen diesel models are making the decision to file a VW class action lawsuit for damages. VW owners believed they were buying environmentally-friendly cars but were misled. As a result of the scandal, many are left with cars that have lost significant resale value.
If you purchased any of the VW diesel models that have been recalled in the U.S., you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a Volkswagen attorney at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman today to discuss your individual case or joining our VW class action lawsuit.
Carmaker Looking at Billions Paid Back to Consumers
December 3, 2015
In the latest Volkswagen news, the German automaker told the media that it is working to secure a bridge loan worth in excess of $20 million to show the world that it can handle the financial fallout stemming from its diesel scandal. While many are left to speculate on the total worldwide cost that VW will face over its admission of installing software designed to cheat emissions testing, news of the bridge loan likely means that Volkswagen is concerned that initial estimates to cover the scandal are low.
How much will U.S. consumers get for their affected VW diesel vehicles? That remains to be seen. What seems to be clear at this point is that unlike other recent actions against automakers that were dragged out in lengthy court proceedings, the VW scandal will likely be settled early, as the automaker has already admitted liability. The question now focuses on the extent of the fraud.
Consumers that have moved to sue VW asked a judge in New Orleans on Thursday to consolidate Volkswagen cases. Where they will be consolidated is still being negotiated. According to the Detroit News, consumers have asked for cases to be consolidated in California, Virginia, Texas, Illinois, Tennessee, Ohio and Alabama.
The real negotiations will hinge on the VW settlement amount. With an estimated 567,000 vehicles in the U.S. affected by the VW emissions scandal, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst estimated that VW’s exposure on each “clean diesel” car affected will be between $1,000 and $7,000, putting Volkswagen’s exposure at around $1.5 billion, just in that regard. When triple damages and punitive damages for deceptive trade practices are factored in, the cost will likely increase, further still if consumers seek a full refund on the purchase price of their vehicle, less depreciation. In the event that VW is forced to buy back the affected vehicles, the company is looking at $8.9 billion, according to a Bloomberg analyst.
VW Update: Automaker Understated Emissions of Gas Cars
November 3, 2015
Volkswagen’s emissions crisis got a whole lot worse on Tuesday. VW spokesman Eric Felber said the German automaker understated carbon dioxide emissions and overstated fuel economy on roughly 800,000 vehicles sold in Europe. The admission includes a limited number of gas-powered vehicles, widening the scope of the VW scandal previously thought to include only diesel engines.
According to the New York Times, the latest admission will force Volkswagen to incur roughly $2.2 billion in potential financial penalties due to tax breaks European countries grant for vehicles with low carbon dioxide emissions. This latest sum would be in addition to the roughly $7 billion VW has already set aside to address the ‘defeat device’ scandal that Volkswagen admitted to in September.
Felber said Volkswagen is still investigating what caused the false emissions data, though he added that the issue more than likely doesn’t involve software. Most of the affected vehicles have EA 288 engines, which come in 1.4-liter, 1.6-liter and 2-liter versions. A small number are cars with gasoline engines.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still looking into the Volkswagen statement.
VW Recall in China – Nearly 2,000 Diesel Cars Affected
October 12, 2015
VW announced a recall for China, which will affect nearly 2,000 diesel cars sold in the country. The recall announcement was made a week after the German automaker said over 11 million diesel vehicles sold around the world contained software designed to cheat emissions tests.
The VW China recall will mainly affect the Tiguan models, all imported into the country. According to the BBC, the model represents only a small percentage of Volkswagen cars imported into China.
In related VW news, China’s environmental agency announced that it will be conducting an investigation into Volkswagen cars sold in the country after the German automaker admitted to installing the “defeat devices.” VW has also launched its own investigation into the scandal, and last week appointed a new chief executive and chairman. Hans Dieter Poetsch, the new VW chairman, has said that answers on how this scandal unfolded will take “some time”.
Volkswagen Announces Recall in Europe
October 6, 2015
Volkswagen has announced that it will recall millions of diesel cars equipped with software designed to cheat emissions testing.
In an interview with a German newspaper, VW CEO Matthias Mueller said the car maker hopes to start the recall in January of 2016 and complete the fix by the end of the year. Estimates put the number of VW diesel cars affected by the recall at around eight million.
According to AutoNews, most of the VW cars will likely require software reprogramming, which can be done at a local service station. However, others will require new injector systems or a special rebuild to install larger catalytic converters. In “particular cases,” Mueller said, replacing cars will be considered.
The embattled Volkswagen CEO also said four employees—including three top VW managers—have been suspended, while others involved in the scandal have retired. All are German personnel. As of this writing, no one has been implicated in the United States.