A panel of federal judges decided last Tuesday to centralize federal Volkswagen lawsuits before a single judge at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The move, which several plaintiffs requested, ideally would simplify the pretrial management of all of the litigation, saving the time of the court, the expert witnesses and others.
Volkswagen lawsuits have been filed across the country by owners of numerous clean diesel models whose cars were illegally equipped with a "defeat device" that conceals pollution during vehicle emissions testing but not during normal vehicle operation.
In September, it seemed only 2.0 Liter models were affected. But by November, it was clear that 3.0 Liter vehicles also were illegally outfitted.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists the following affected 2.0 Liter models and years:
· Jetta (2009-2015)
· Jetta Sportwagen (2009-2014)
· Beetle (2012-2015)
· Beetle Convertible (2012-2015)
· Audi A3 (2010-2015)
· Golf (2010-2015)
· Golf Sportwagen (2015)
· Passat (2012-2015)
In the 3.0 Liter class, some of these vehicles are equipped with defeat devices:
· Volkswagen Touareg (2009-2016)
· Porsche Cayenne (2013-2016)
· Audi A6 Quattro (2014-2016)
· Audi A7 Quattro (2014-2016)
· Audi A8 (2014-2016)
· Audi A8L (2014-2016)
· Audi Q5 (2014-2016)
· Audi Q7 (2009-2016)
Nearly a half-million vehicles are affected all together.
Plaintiffs in Volkswagen lawsuits make a number of points as they seek damages. Among them is the fact that owners wouldn't have purchased the vehicles if they had known about the defeat devices. Additionally, correction of the problem, even if VW pays for it, leaves the owner with a car of diminished value and of a performance level below that which was advertised.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation characterized the Volkswagen lawsuits that it centralized in this manner in its Dec. 8 order:
"All actions," the judges wrote, "involve common factual questions regarding the role of VW and related entities in equipping certain diesel engines with software allegedly designed to engage emissions controls only when the vehicles undergo official testing, while at other times the engines emit nitrous oxide well in excess of legal limits. Since the filing of the motion, hundreds of cases, mostly class actions, have been filed on behalf of, inter alia, dealers, owners and lessees of affected vehicles. Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery, avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings (especially on issues relating to class certification), and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary."
If you own one of the affected VW models, then you may have legal options. One place to explore them, without paying for the consultation, is to contact one of the Volkswagen lawsuit attorneys at Reich & Binstock. Simply click on this link to the contact page or call toll-free 1-866-LAW-2400. Reich & Binstock operates in all 50 states.