A settlement reached June 27 between Volkswagen and owners of about half a million diesel-powered VW vehicles over the German automaker’s emissions cheat is worth more than $14 billion, including $10.033 billion set aside to cover vehicle buybacks and fixes, $2 billion for “green energy” funds and $2.7 billion to offset diesel emissions. The settlement is pending approval of U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who is overseeing the consolidated litigation.
Beasley Allen is one of the law firms chosen to litigate the Volkswagen case on behalf of plaintiffs harmed by the automaker’s emissions cheat. Beasley Allen Principal W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, who heads the firm’s Consumer Fraud section, was one of the 22 attorneys appointed by Judge Breyer to the Plaintiffs Steering Committee.
“This is a remarkable and historical settlement for the VW 2.0 -Liter diesel car owners,” Miles said. “It provides full relief to the consumers, substantial remedial measures for the environment and adequate punishment to the company for its gross misconduct. None of this would have been possible without the great leadership from Judge Charles M. Breyer, the tenacity of Settlement Master Robert Mueller and the incredible work of the 21-firm Plaintiffs Steering Committee led by Elizabeth Cabraser. While this result is most satisfying, there is still more work to do with the VW / Audi / Porsche 3.0-Liter diesel models and defendant Bosch.”
The settlement will compensate owners of some 482,000 model-year 2009-2015 VW and Audi vehicles with two-liter diesel engines. Under the agreement, vehicle owners would be allowed to choose whether to sell their vehicle back to VW or have it repaired. According to the terms of the settlement agreement, cash compensation offered to each car owner could range between $5,100 and $10,000 and total compensation will depend on the cars’ value before Volkswagen admitted to the emissions cheat.
Volkswagen installed the emissions cheat on 10.5 million diesel-powered vehicles worldwide, including the half million U.S. vehicles — all while promoting “clean diesel” as an alternative to electric and hybrid vehicles. The defeat device enables the vehicles to detect the special parameters of an emissions drive cycle, which prompts the vehicle’s computer to turn on emissions controls, thereby making the vehicle fully compliant with EPA rules during testing.
The software also senses steering, throttle, and other variables unique to real-time driving, which cues the computer to turn off emissions controls, allowing the vehicle to release extremely high levels of nitrogen-oxide emissions. These toxic emissions are up to 40 times higher than federal limits allow.