U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer has granted preliminary approval to a new $1 billion settlement involving 78,000 Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche diesel owners in the infamous VW emissions-cheating scandal. Under this newest settlement in the litigation, Volkswagen will compensate owners of these 3-liter diesel engine vehicles, and repair or buy back as many as 20,000 Touareg and Audi Q7 SUVs.
“Today marks another important milestone in Volkswagen’s efforts to make things right,” company spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said in a statement, as reported by Bloomberg News. “The proposed 3.0L TDI settlement will build on the substantial progress we are making with our 2.0L TDI settlement program, and provides a fair resolution for remaining affected customers in the United States.”
There is a conditional aspect to the new settlement: it is hoped that an emissions fix will be found for the affected vehicles, a fix that will then be implemented and drivers will also receive cash compensation. As Law360 (subscription) reported, “if a fix isn’t possible, owners will have the option to sell their cars back to VW and lessees will be able to opt out of their leases. That could bring the compensation total up to $4.04 billion.”
Elizabeth Cabraser, lead counsel and chair of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the litigation, noted that some class members were raising concerns about the fact that they couldn’t just opt for a buyback of Generation Two vehicles. “Another option would have been to wait another year or so to see what the results of the emissions modification is,” she said. Judge Breyer indicated a preference for engine correction versus a buyback, noting that an emissions fix would be more “environmentally sound” than a buyback that would “waste assets that have already been committed to manufacturing … the vehicles.”
More than 500 federal lawsuits were filed against the German auto manufacturer, and consolidated into one complaint in San Francisco Federal Court on February 22. Last year, Volkswagen publicly admitted that it had rigged emissions testing and production in the diesel engines of approximately 11 million vehicles worldwide.
VW programmed software in their diesel vehicles to detect when they were undergoing official emissions testing – only then did the cars turn on their full emission control systems. The controls were then shut off during actual road use, resulting in better fuel economy and performance, but producing toxic pollutants well in excess of U.S. clean air standards.
According to Bloomberg, “The total cost of penalties, buybacks and fixes in North America could exceed $23 billion as Volkswagen tries to overcome the biggest scandal in modern automotive history.”
Final approval of the settlement will be decided at a May 11 hearing later this year.
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.