Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Increased Active Participation of VW Class Members Sheds Light on Changing Court System

Increased Active Participation of VW Class Members Sheds Light on Changes in Big Litigation

Class member participation in the Volkswagen diesel emissions consumer fraud litigation has been increasingly active, and the court system has taken notice. VW diesel owners have robustly engaged in social media discussions, emailed the courts on a regular basis, and even called class counsel on their personal cell phones.

Speaking at a recent conference at NYU Law, Lieff Cabraser partner Elizabeth Cabraser, who is lead counsel in the VW consumer litigation, noted that she’s seen a “complete revolution in the relationships between members of the class, their counsel and the court” in high-profile class action lawsuits such as the VW diesel emissions case. “There is 24/7 real time participation.”

In “Points for Participation: Class Members Increasingly Active,” Bloomberg BNA explains how “class members were traditionally thought of as ‘rationally indifferent’ to the ins and outs of litigation… They let it proceed without them, and collected their checks after settlement.” However, and as the article and the authorities quoted therein indicate, this no longer seems to be the case.

“Nobody is rationally indifferent to anything anymore,” said Cabraser. “Or perhaps no one is rational about anything anymore.”

According to Cabraser, the high and active participation rates from class members of the VW “Clean Diesel” litigation “reflects the fact that we all feel the right now to participate in what used to be more formal affairs – elections, for example, and court proceedings… We now all feel the right to participate far more directly, and sometimes far less civilly than we ever did before.”

But the challenge that comes with this transformation is that everyone in the class action world “must accept that the system is forever changed.”

“Anything we thought we knew or read in a case five years ago, two years ago or even earlier this year may well no longer be true,” Ms. Cabraser says. “One thing I’m certain of is that class actions will be increasingly characterized by incessant communication between class counsel and class members, perhaps between the defendants and class members, and like it or not, between courts and class members.”

Lieff Cabraser Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi Emissions Fraud Attorneys

Lieff Cabraser represents Volkswagen (and VW-owned Porsche and Audi) owners in class action lawsuits filed in federal courts in numerous states over the 2015 VW emissions fraud scandal. The case is In Re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2672, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

For information about the compensation options available to you, please read the Court-approved notice carefully, and visit https://www.vwcourtsettlement.com/en/. There you can enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and determine if your vehicle is included. You can also access an Online Claims Portal and get individualized information about what the settlements mean for you. The Online Claims Portal will provide the fastest processing of your claim.

Learn more about the VW Settlement and your recovery here.