A proposed settlement agreement involving claims related to a Volkswagen (VW) emissions cheat scandal has been filed with Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The proposed settlement, estimated at more than $95 million, will resolve claims between VW and owners/lessees of certain gasoline-powered VW, Audi, Porsche and Bentley branded vehicles. VW has already settled with a larger class of diesel-powered vehicle owners.
The settlement, if approved by Judge Breyer, will resolve more than 100,000 claims by consumers who purchased vehicles labeled and marketed with overstated fuel economy. The vehicles were equipped with a “defeat device” that controlled emissions during testing to pass environmental requirements, but disabled emissions control during driving. As a result, the vehicles did not perform as advertised. Vehicle owners said they would not have purchased the vehicles, or paid what they did for them, if they had been advised of the true fuel economy ratings and emissions.
“This part of the VW settlement dealt with the company overstating fuel economy to consumers on VW auto products Audi, Porsche, Bentley and VWs,” explained Beasley Allen lawyer W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, who is head of the firm’s Consumer Fraud Section and served in a leadership role for the multidistrict litigation (MDL). “As a result of this fuel economy class settlement and the prior diesel emissions class settlement, consumers can now make informed decisions regarding car purchases with true and accurate information at least about emissions and fuel economy on these VW auto lines. It’s unfortunate that it took litigation to correct this market misconduct, but its proof our jury system in this country works and is a critical component of our democracy in leveling the playing field between consumers and large corporations.”
It is estimated vehicles equipped with the defeat device emitted more carbon dioxide (CO2) than allowed by federal law, and obtained up to 1 MPG less fuel economy then represented by VW. The proposed settlement will compensate class members according to the length of time they owned or leased their vehicle and based on the vehicle’s revised and true fuel economy ratings. It is expected vehicle owners will receive between $518.40 and $2,332.80 depending on these qualifications.
The lawsuit was brought against the defendants under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and the warranty and consumer protection laws of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief.
The litigation is known as the “Audi CO2 cases” and is consolidated in In Re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2672 CRB (JSC).