U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who is overseeing massive multidistrict litigation (MDL) that accuses Volkswagen (VW) of cheating emissions standards, has appointed Beasley Allen Principal W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, to the Plaintiffs Steering Committee (PSC). Miles, who is head of Beasley Allen’s Consumer Fraud section, is one of 22 attorneys appointed to the PSC out of more than 150 who applied.
“It’s an honor to be selected by Judge Bryer to serve the court in a leadership role on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee,” Miles said. “This VW case is one of the worst cases of fraud on the public we have ever seen in the automobile industry’s history. It is a privilege to help lead the prosecution of these claims against VW with some of this country’s most talented lawyers.”
VW’s emissions debacle has been going on since September, when federal regulators revealed that Volkswagen installed a cheat in its diesel-powered vehicles that allowed the vehicles to operate without emissions controls except when they were being tested, at which time the vehicle detects it is being tested and turns the emissions controls on.
Volkswagen has admitted to writing code into the software of nearly half a million diesel vehicles it sold in the U.S. that turned on pollution controls when it detected the vehicle to be in emissions inspection and shut them off in normal daily use. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated the vehicles could emit up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide than allowed by federal law. The automaker has not said how it will fix the problem, but the installation of proper emissions controls will almost certainly translate to slower, heavier vehicle performance.
Miles’ selection to the PSC is a testament to his experience in complex national litigation. At Thursday’s hearing where he interviewed the lawyers applying for a spot on the MDL leadership team, Breyer said “I don’t pick law firms, I pick lawyers.”
Miles has been appointed by Federal District Judges to serve in a leadership role for the Plaintiffs in numerous Multidistrict Litigations (MDLs) throughout the country, charged with the awesome responsibility of coordinating the litigation for the entire country on certain cases such as the Toyota sudden unintended acceleration MDL, Target Data Breach MDL, the Home Depot Data Breach MDL, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust MDL, and the Takata airbag MDL. Miles has also served as lead class counsel in several class actions such as Robertson v. Liberty National Life Insurance Company, Gadson v. American Medical Security Insurance Company and Gouche v. Transamerica Life Insurance Company; just to name a few.
Judge Breyer appointed Elizabeth Cabraser with Leiff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, based in San Francisco, Calif., to chair the PSC. The case is In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, case number 3:15-md-02672, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Read the Pretrial Order establishing the PSC.