New Documentary Captures VW Diesel Emissions Scandal & the Clean Air Movement in California

A new documentary titled “Backfired: When VW Lied To America” will soon be coming to TV screens and movie theaters around the country. Produced by Dale Bell, co-founder of The Media and Policy Center in Burbank, California, the film provides the most detailed video examination to date of the Volkswagen diesel emissions fraud scandal.

“How could a corporate entity turn so abruptly on its customers, eviscerate its own corporate values, and wantonly poison and kill children and elders globally in pursuit of profit and domination of a market? I had to find out, as best I could,” states Bell. “My social justice instincts, coupled with my yearning to tell the California environmental history story to a global audience, took over,” the filmmaker added.

In 2015, Volkswagen publicly admitted that it had rigged emissions testing and production in the diesel engines of approximately 11 million vehicles worldwide. More than 500 federal lawsuits were filed against the German auto manufacturer, and consolidated into one overarching collective litigation effort in San Francisco Federal Court on February 22, 2016. That litigation was led on the consumer plaintiffs’ side by Lieff Cabraser partner Elizabeth Cabraser.

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 Forbes, “Bell’s documentary puts the scandal, which erupted in 2015, in a broader context of the Clean Air movement in California, as well as digging into a culture of arrogance that permeated the German company.” The film also dives into the original investigation at The University of West Virginia, which led to the unmasking of the fraudulent activity that led to the automaker paying tens of billions of dollars to governments and customers.

“None of the other reports I’ve seen including my own put the Volkswagen scandal into the context of the whole clean air movement. There is a lot of fascinating detail and I learned a lot,” noted New York Times reporter Jack Ewing.

On October 25, 2016, Judge Charles M. Breyer granted final approval to the historic $14.7 billion settlement in the Volkswagen diesel emissions case. Eligible consumers of Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter “Clean Diesel” vehicles have until September 1, 2018 to file claims to receive compensation, approved emissions modification.

All class members of the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation can visit or call 1-844-98-CLAIM to access the Online Claims Portal and submit a claim.

The first airdate of “Backfired” has not yet been set.

See the “Backfired: When VW Lied to America” documentary preview here.

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 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.

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