Cases

Volkswagen Emissions Fraud Lawsuits

Motley Rice vehicle defect attorneys filed cases in both state and federal courts involving Volkswagen diesel cars with emission systems designed to deceive regulators and defraud consumers.

Motley Rice co-founder Joe Rice was appointed by the Court to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) and has played a leading role on the PSC’s negotiating and financial committees responsible for the $14.7 billion “Clean Diesel” settlement for owners of 2.0-liter TDI vehicles and the $1.2 to $4.4 billion settlement for owners and lessees of 3.0-liter Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen TDI vehicles. Joining him in the negotiations were Motley Rice attorneys Ann Ritter and Andrew Arnold. For more information, including the settlement program filing, visit vwcourtsettlement.com.

May 17, 2017

Case Update:  COURT APPROVES SETTLEMENT DEAL FOR 3.0-LITER VEHICLES

U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California approved a $1.2 billion settlement (that could potentially increase up to $4.4 billion) to resolve claims filed by current and former owners and lessees of 3.0-liter Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen TDI, or “Clean Diesel,” vehicles. Also approved was a $327.5 million settlement with the Germany company Robert Bosch GmbH, which supplied the software used to defeat emissions testing. Bosch settlement payments will automatically be sent to owners and lessees who participate in the 2.0-liter or 3.0-liter settlement with Volkswagen once their claims are fully processed, unless they explicitly opted out of the Bosch settlement.

Affected Diesel Models Include:

  • Audi A3 TDI (2010-2015)
  • Audi A6 Quattro TDI (2014-2016)
  • Audi A7 Quattro TDI (2014-2016)
  • Audi A8 TDI (2014-2016)
  • Audi A8L TDI (2014-2016)
  • Audi Q5 TDI (2014-2016)
  • Audi Q7 TDI (2009-2016)
  • Porsche Cayenne Diesel (2013-2016)
  • VW Beetle TDI (2012-2015)
  • VW Beetle Convertible TDI (2012-2015)
  • VW Golf TDI (2010-2015)
  • VW Golf Sportwagen TDI (2015)
  • VW Jetta TDI (2009-2015)
  • VW Jetta SportWagen TDI (2009-2014)
  • VW Passat TDI (2012-2015)
  • VW Touareg TDI (2009-2016)

Vehicle Defect Attorneys

Motley Rice attorneys have experience in vehicle defect cases and have held leadership roles in similar litigation, including most recently with General Motors’ ignition switch defects and recalls and Takata’s exploding airbags.

Motley Rice attorneys also represent people impacted by a separate excess carbon dioxide emissions issue affecting certain 2010-2016, gasoline-powered 3.0-liter Audi vehicles. Learn more about these cases.

2.0-Liter Settlement Terms

On Oct. 25, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California approved the nearly $15 billion 2.0-liter settlement deal to compensate consumers and mitigate the impact Volkswagen’s actions had on the environment. Roughly $10 billion will be paid to consumers to buy back and repair around 482,000 affected Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter TDI vehicles that were owned or leased as of Sept. 18, 2015. An additional $4.7 billion will mitigate the environmental impact of the excess emissions, including $2.7 billion to be paid into a trust to support environmental programs across the country that will reduce NOx in the atmosphere by an amount equal to or greater than the combined excess NOx pollution caused by the affected vehicles. The remaining $2 billion will be used to develop additional, new, clean technology.

The settlement agreement allows eligible owners, eligible sellers and eligible lessees the option of a buyback, having their car modified to reduce emissions, or time to wait and see what is going to be best for them in the long run.

The 2.0-liter settlement is the largest auto-related consumer class action in U.S. history. Volkswagen agreed to begin processing claims immediately after the settlement was approved, and eligible consumers were encouraged to review the settlement terms and begin pursuing compensation and buybacks as quickly as possible. Consumers who would prefer a modification can wait to see whether one will be made available. As part of the settlement program, VW must produce a modification within a 12-month schedule that is approved by the Court and EPA, or buy back the vehicles. For more information, including the full settlement program filing, visit http://www.vwcourtsettlement.com/.

2.0-Liter Emissions Modifications

On Jan. 6, 2017, the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency approved an emissions modification for roughly 70,000 “Generation 3” 2.0-liter Volkswagen and Audi vehicles released in model year 2015. The vehicles, which previously emitted NOx up to 40 times the standard level, are now able to be installed with a second NOx sensor and a new or replacement diesel oxidation catalyst that is said to reduce NOx emissions by 80 to 90 percent.

On July 27, 2017, the EPA and CARB announced their approval of VW’s proposed modification for 326,000 2.0-liter diesel engines. According to VW, the announcement means that an approved modification is now available for more than 98 percent of eligible 2.0-liter TDI vehicles in the U.S.

Read more on the modification for affected Volkswagen vehicles.

Read more on the modification for affected Audi vehicles.

The below shows which steps to take for the buyback option and the emissions modification option:

Vehicle Buyback

Volkswagen TDI Buyback Steps

Download Vehicle Buyback PDF

Emissions Modification

Volkswagen TDI Emissions Modification

Download Emissions Modification PDF

3.0-Liter Settlement Terms

The 3.0-liter settlement, which has now been approved by the court, has different phases and options, depending on various criteria, including whether a consumer had a “Generation 1” or “Generation 2” vehicle. “Generation 1” vehicles are immediately eligible for buybacks, trade-ins, and potentially emissions modifications (if approved by the EPA and CARB).  On the other hand, VW believes that “Generation 2” vehicles can be fully repaired to meet the emissions standards to which the vehicles were originally certified, and is being given a chance to develop and propose such a repair. Initially, VW has until December 20, 2017 to receive approval for a repair to the “Generation 2” vehicles. If VW does not meet that target, it will have the option to extend the deadline by 30 days as many as three times (up to 90 days total) by agreeing to pay an additional $500 to owners and lessees for each 30-day extension. If a repair is not approved, VW must buy back or offer equivalent trade-ins for the affected “Generation 2” vehicles, and will face other ramifications, potentially increasing the settlement amount. For more information and a break out of the terms, read Motley Rice co-founder Joe Rice’s blog about the terms.

Fines and Criminal Investigation

On Jan. 11, 2017, Volkswagen AG plead guilty to federal conspiracy and other charges in violation of the Clean Air Act and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties. Several of the automakers top executives, too, face criminal charges in an ongoing investigation. Read the Department of Justice’s announcement.

Under the Clean Air Act, Volkswagen could have been fined as much as $37,500 for each vehicle in question, a possible total penalty of $18 billion. Additionally, VW now faces a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice just as General Motors did for faulty ignition switches. Read the EPA’ statement on the Clean Air Act Violations.

VW “Dieselgate” Timeline

On Sept. 18, 2015, news broke that German automaker Volkswagen has been programming more than 11 million vehicles worldwide, nearly 500,000 of those vehicles in the United States, to cheat on tests by emitting lower emissions levels in official tests than how they actually perform on the road. In its Notice of Violation to Volkswagen, the EPA stated that, "VW admit[ted] it had designed and installed a defeat device in these vehicles in the form of a sophisticated software algorithm that detected when a vehicle was undergoing emissions testing."

Michael Horn, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America admitted on Sept. 21, 2015 that, "our company was dishonest with the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] and the California Air Resources Board, and with all of you. And in my German words, we've totally screwed up." He later testified on Oct. 8, 2015 before a House of Representatives subcommittee regarding the diesel emissions scandal. To date, 10 senior managers and four top engineers at Volkswagen have been suspended and an internal inquiry launched.

On Sept. 23, 2015, Volkswagen CEO Dr. Martin Winterkorn took responsibility for the defeat devices called out by the EPA for cheating vehicle emission tests and resigned. In his official statement posted on the VW website, Dr. Winterkorn stated, "Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group." Following Winterkorn’s resignation, Matthias Mueller was later appointed as VW’s CEO.

EPA Announces Additional Violations

On Nov.  2, 2015, the EPA announced additional charges against Volkswagen for violating the Clean Air Act. The EPA accused VW of using software to cheat emissions tests in about 10,000 additional cars, including 3.0-liter diesel engines in various VW, Audi and Porsche models.

Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” (Emissions Defeat Device) Multidistrict Litigation

On Dec. 8, 2015, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict litigation said the more than 500 civil lawsuits filed to date against Volkswagen AG will be heard by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in the Northern District of California in San Francisco.

On Jan. 21, 2016, Motley Rice co-founder Joe Rice was appointed by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for In re Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2672 CRB (JSC) in the U.S. District Court Northern District of California.

Related News:

USA Today (May 11, 2017) — Volkswagen emissions settlement approved: $1.2B in buybacks, repairs, cash

Reuters (April 21, 2017) U.S. judge sentences Volkswagen to three years probation, oversight

Bloomberg (February, 23, 2017)VW Executive Pleads Not Guilty as 5 Avoid U.S. Diesel Case

Reuters (January 12, 2017) — TIMELINE-Volkswagen's long road to a U.S. Dieselgate settlement

Green Car Reports (January 7, 2017) — Emission updates for 2015 VW, Audi 2.0-liter TDI diesels OKed by regulators

CBS News (January 6, 2017) — U.S. approves fix for some Volkswagen diesels

Reuters (December 23, 2016) — Volkswagen reaches deal with 80,000 U.S. 3.0-liter vehicle owners

The Detroit News (October 25, 2016) — Judge OKs $14.7B VW emission settlement

USA Today (October 18, 2016) — Judge 'inclined' to approve Volkswagen settlement

Law360 (October 5, 2016) — The VW Emissions Scandal A Year Later

Bloomberg (August 18, 2016) — Porsche Drivers Fume: Where’s Our VW Diesel Payout?

Business Insider (August 15, 2016) — Volkswagen may face criminal and civil penalties over emissions scandal

New York Times (July 15, 2016)Behind Volkswagen Settlement, Speed and Compromise

Bloomberg (July 13, 2016) VW Faces Setback as California Rejects 3-Liter Car Recall Plan

Law360 (July 8, 2016) — The Judge Who Hit The Gas On Volkswagen’s ‘Dieselgate’ Deal

New York Times (June 28, 2016) VW Settles Diesel Emissions Case in U.S., Clearing Just One Hurdle for Its Finances

S.C. Lawyers Weekly (July 5, 2016) — SC attorney plays key role in $14.7B Volkswagen settlement

New York Times (May 3, 2016) - Former top Porsche developer, suspended in VW scandal, quits for good

Business Wire (April 21, 2016) – Agreement in principle reached in Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” (Emissions Defeat Device) MDL NO. 2672

International Business Times (April 17, 2016) – Volkswagen emissions scandal update: deadline looms for ‘dieselgate’ fix

The Associated Press (March 15, 2016) – Ex-worker says Volkswagen destroyed documents, obstructed justice

Reuters (March 6, 2016) – VW chairman, CEO knew of illicit software early, Bild reports

Reuters (Jan. 12, 2016) - California board rejects Volkswagen’s diesel fix plan

The Daily Progress (Oct. 8, 2015) – Local woman files lawsuit against Volkswagen

The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 2, 2015) – Bosch Could Get Drawn Into Volkswagen Emissions Litigation

Bloomberg (Oct. 1, 2015) – VW Claims Mount as Lawyers Vie for Leading Role, Friendly Court

Charleston Regional Business Journal (Sept. 30, 2015) – Lowcountry law firm files class-action suits against Volkswagen

New York Times (Sept. 22, 2015) – Volkswagen Debacle on Financial Par with BP Oil Spill

The Atlantic (Sept. 22, 2015) – Clean Diesel No More: Volkswagen Scandal Grows

New York Times (Sept. 22, 2015) - Volkswagen Says 11 Million Cars Worldwide Are Affected in Diesel Deception

Washington Post – (Sept. 22-2015) VW emissions cheating affects 11 million cars worldwide

International Business Times – (Sept. 22, 2015) – Volkswagen Diesel Recall Update: Full List Of Cars Affected, How To Get A Refund

CNN – (Sept. 22, 2015) – Volkswagen Scandal Widens

USA Today (Sept. 21, 2015) – Volkswagen plays dirty with ‘clean diesel’: Our view