California Court to Hear VW Diesel Lawsuits

Case will be heard by brother of U.S. Supreme Court justice.

by on Dec.09, 2015

U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen in Detroit was considered for hearing the now 450- consolidated lawsuits that went to San Francisco.

A federal court in California will wind up handling the growing list of lawsuits filed against Volkswagen over its admitted cheating in diesel emissions tests, a multidistrict judicial panel has decided.

There had been speculation that the legal actions – now estimated at more than 450 suits – would be turned over to the same Detroit judge who recently oversaw the bankruptcy of the Motor City. But the panel said it was more appropriate to go to San Francisco because a large number of VW owners and dealers are located there.

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“We are confident that Judge Breyer will steer this controversy on a prudent and expeditious course,” declared the panel, referring to U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer. The San Francisco-based jurist, it continued, is “thoroughly familiar with the nuances of complex, multidistrict litigation.”

Volkswagen has been embroiled in controversy since mid-September when the U.S. Environmental Agency accused it of using a so-called “defeat device” to cheat on emissions tests involving 482,000 vehicles equipped with a 2.0-liter turbodiesel. The carmaker quickly acknowledged the problem and confirmed a total of 11 million vehicles sold worldwide were equipped with the suspect software.

VW also has acknowledged a subsequent allegation by the EPA that it cheated on emissions rules with a larger, 3.0-liter diesel sold in various models under the Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche brands.

(Justice Dept., VW want to consolidate lawsuits in one court, ideally Detroit. For more, .)

The maker has put a stop-sale on all affected products in the U.S., a move that contributed to a large slump in sales by the VW division last month, though Audi and Porsche showed sharp gains.

The maker faces a potential EPA fine of more than $20 billion for the two diesel scams, and it is under criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, as well as by authorities in Germany. But the biggest financial hit could come from civil litigation, according to various observers. Some analysts have suggested the eventual cost of settling the controversy will cost VW more than $50 billion.

The German company has been hit by a wide range of lawsuits. Many of them allege that consumers were defrauded, VW not living up to promises that its vehicles were quick, fuel-efficient and clean. Some owners claim the scandal has resulted in loss of trade-in value. Diesels have also sued Volkswagen because of the impact the scandal is having on their businesses.

The challenge for the judicial panel was to determine if and how these various suits would be consolidated to ease the likely court load, and then to choose where to have the matter brought to trial.

(Click Here for details about VW admitting additional cheating.)

There had been thought Detroit would make sense because, among other things, it would be close to the EPA’s emissions testing labs. But, in the end, the jurists settled on San Francisco because of several potential advantages. For one thing, the decision stated, it is where “most affected vehicles and dealers” are located. About a fifth of the suits so far filed are based in the Golden State.

The federal court in the Northern District of California was where the first lawsuit against VW was filed. Additionally, the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, is located in the state capital of Sacramento, an hour away. CARB, the panel noted, “played an important initial role in investigating and, ultimately, revealing VW’s use of the defeat devices.”

The judicial panel did not immediately rule on the fate of several lawsuits that now might not be consolidated into the action facing Judge Breyer – who is the brother of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Those include claims covering alleged securities fraud. Another action would allow VW diesel owners to defer payments on their loans.

(Facing fines, legal bills VW slashes spending. Click Here for the story.)

Volkswagen last week lined up $21 billion in short-term financing to cover the possible costs associated with the diesel scandal. It has separately set aside $7.1 billion and sharply reduced its capital spending plans as a result of the potential costs.

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4 Responses to “California Court to Hear VW Diesel Lawsuits”

  1. GT101 says:

    The siren chasers prefer the case be heard in CA due to the smog issues in LA and a large group of radical environmentalists who view society as evil for interfering with the earth consuming itself. You can bet the tree huggers will do all that they can to persecute VW over a trivial emissions issue which is absurd in light of GM’s defective ignition switch that resulted in 100+ deaths.

    What is the real agenda of the EPA? It’s to prevent consumers from buying reliable, cost effective clean diesel powered cars like the rest of the world uses. That has been the Obama/EPA agenda for years. There is more to these lawsuits than enforcing emissions regs. There is massive gold digging here by many if not most.

  2. Chris Holman says:

    Real nice go ahead and stand up for a foreign corporation against your own country real nice that you support an outfit taking American market share by cheating and stupid people attack the EPA. Real smart on your part, hey the Chinese and Russians have some real nice auto’s we should let in the country too so idiots like you can complain that the EPA is picking on them also, bad old evil EPA looking out for kids and all that.

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      ??? Are you serious with this, Chris?

      Paul E.

    • GT101 says:

      Chris-

      No disrespect but you appear completely oblivious to the ISSUES involved in the VW emissions case which have nothing to due with nationality. In case you don’t know, VW has a factory in Chattanooga, TN where they build VW’s sold in the U.S. They are expanding this factory to build a new small SUV model here in the U.S. VW is creating U.S. jobs and offering competitive products in a global auto economy. Every VW, Audi Porsche dealer in the U.S. depends on VW for product which creates U.S. jobs. Many suppliers to VW all over the world are located in the U.S. and create U.S. jobs.

      Everyone of these people in the U.S. and everyone of the people in the EU impacted by the outlandish knee-jerk EPA reaction suffers when the EPA and other gold diggers try to steal money from VW over a trivial emissions violation. Not only are they hurting VW the corporation they are turning people’s lives upside down because these employees of many companies who had nothing to due with the software issue, are losing their jobs over a trivial emissions issue. We’re talking millions of people impacted by the EPA’s knee-jerk reaction over a minor software issue.

      Clearly you have no clue what so ever on the impact of the EPA’s grandstanding and the gold digger lawsuits. They are taking food off of people’s tables and in many cases destroying jobs, businesses and more in both the U.S. and Europe, all over a trivial exhaust emissions issue. The response is simple unjustified. Go ahead and fine VW appropriately for the improper software created by a small group of people, but don’t destroy people’s lives over nothing.

      You don’t seem to be too concerned about the 100+ deaths caused by the defective GM ignition switch and cover-up? I guess it’s OK with some people to kill innocent people by virtue of covering up a defect that should have been fixed as soon as it was discovered. You need to take an ethics class from the post you made above. While you’re at it sign up for a world economics class too. Perhaps then when you have a clue, then perhaps you’ll understand the international impact the EPA has created over a trivial exhaust emissions issue that literally harmed no one.

      BTW the EPA is not “looking out for kids and all that”. The U.S. EPA is a very political agency who intentionally has created excessively low U.S. diesel exhaust emissions requirements to deter the sales of clean diesel to U.S. consumers so that they can enjoy the same benefits as consumers all around the world have enjoyed for decades. The EPA did this at the request of Obama who wants people to buy impractical, over-priced EVs instead of clean diesels. The unscrupulous actions by Obama and the EPA have been documented and they illustrate evil government that is out of touch with reality who are conspiring to harm the public.

      Chris, you need to educate yourself because as Paul suggested your post is actually embarrassing for you and it shows a huge disconnect with reality.

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