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August 26, 2016

Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” hearing recap, no progress for 3.0 owners

by: Joseph F. Rice

Parties in the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” litigation appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer for a status conference on August 25, 2016. Below is a recap of the hearing and my thoughts on the highlights.

3.0 Liter Vehicles Update

We remain disappointed that owners and lessees of impacted 3.0 liter vehicles are still left without a resolution. The speed of this process should be increased as we feel Volkswagen isn’t adequately considering all hardships this places on consumers. We continually hear from 3.0 liter consumers that they want cars bought back.

Whether Volkswagen can fix the vehicles to acceptable EPA standards does not eliminate the fact that these cars were sold with a defeat device and that fraud was committed. That is not acceptable conduct and the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee will continue to push for an expedited trial date and resolution for these owners and lessees.

Judge Breyer made it clear that he expects a proposed settlement structure for the 3.0 liter vehicles this fall, complete with alternatives, particularly if any proposed fix is not approved by the EPA.

Potential Fraud by 3rd Parties regarding 2.0 liter values

It has come to the court’s attention that some dealers or insurance agencies may try to offer owners less than their car is worth under the proposed settlement agreement. Owners may at any time go to www.vwcourtsettlement.com and look up their exact car value.

Owners should not allow anyone to take advantage of them or accept less than the value shown on the settlement site.  

Owners who are involved in accidents should know that insurers are on notice and are perfectly aware of the value of these cars under the proposed settlement. Some insurance companies may attempt to use some 90-day historical value that ignores reality and could lead to insurance misconduct. If this happens and an owner believes an insurer is not being realistic, the owner should report them to their state’s insurance board and to the Federal Trade Commission. Complaints may be filed by calling the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or on its website: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov (select “Other”, then select “Automobile”).

Proposed Settlement Reached with Franchise Dealers

We’re pleased that the parties have reached a tentative agreement with approximately 650 Volkswagen dealers in the U.S. After the 2.0 liter settlement was proposed, it was vital for Volkswagen to continue discussions with dealers which started during the 2.0 liter settlement talks.

The exact terms of the proposed settlement are not being disclosed at this time, but hope dealers will find it acceptable and be in place to assist consumers with buy backs and fixes on Oct. 18 if Judge Breyer grants approval to the 2.0 liter proposed settlement.

Next Steps

Judge Breyer requested status updates from the government, EPA and Volkswagen regarding the 3.0 liters on October 24 and again on November 3. The PSC is also expected to report on our progress with a proposed settlement and proposed summer 2017 trial dates.

Read the hearing transcript.

For more information, read my previous blog post, Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Class Settlement Details released for impacted 2.0 liter vehicles.