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Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” MDL – Lawsuit Update

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OUR ROLE: Christopher A. Seeger, principal partner and co-founder of Seeger Weiss LLP, has been appointed to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, and as State Court Liaison Counsel, in the most high-profile consumer litigation case in recent history–the multidistrict litigation facing Volkswagen over its diesel emissions fraud.

STATUS UPDATE: Agreement in Principle Reached

April 21st, 2016: The MDL Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee leading the Volkswagen Emissions class action has reached an Agreement in Principle with Volkswagen regarding the claims of all 2.0 liter TDI owners and lessees. In an important initial step towards obtaining full compensation for consumers and remediation of the environmental impact resulting from excessive emissions, this Agreement in Principal is a positive development that presents the opportunity for Volkswagen to begin redressing the wrongs it has committed.

The presiding Judge, Honorable Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court of the Northern District of California, said during the hearing that all parties will have to work very hard in the coming weeks to negotiate the various details and deal points to reach a final settlement agreement. While negotiations must remain confidential, Judge Breyer emphasized that the Court will provide consumers with the chance to review and comment before the agreement is approved, noting that all consumers will have enough information to allow them to make fully informed decisions, and will not have to choose between a proposed buyback or emission modification until after they have received and have had ample time to consider the pertinent information.

CASE SUMMARY:

On January 21st, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco selected a 22-lawyer Plaintiffs’ Steering committee to help broker a resolution between VW and thousands of consumers–or to head up the trial team for an expedited trial, should a settlement not be reached. The court had received 150 applications from law firms for a spot on the committee, with 100 lawyers appearing in the standing-room-only hearing to represent their firms. Fresh from his Lead Counsel work on another historic litigation, the NFL Concussion case and settlement, Chris Seeger was selected for the national committee, joining some of the country’s top litigation attorneys.

On February 25th, Mr. Seeger was distinguished by an appointment to a further leadership position, as Plaintiffs’ State Court Liaison Counsel.

On March 24th, Judge Breyer stated he would “give the parties until our next status conference, which will be April 21st, 2016, to announce a concrete proposal for getting the polluting vehicles off the road . . . In the event that no concrete proposal by 4/21/2016, the Court will set a bench trial scheduled to take place this summer.”

CASE SCOPE & URGENCY: The nationwide consolidated class action lawsuit against Volkswagen affects hundreds of thousands of owners and lessors of Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche diesel vehicles containing VW’s illegal “defeat device” emissions-cheating software. Judge Breyer recently named former FBI head Robert S. Mueller to serve as a special master in the case to help urge along a speedy resolution.

CASE HISTORY: On September 18, 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act to car makers Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., alleging that four-cylinder VW and Audi diesel cars with model years 2009-2015 were equipped with computer software in their “Clean Diesel” cars that circumvent EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. According to the EPA, the software produced by Volkswagen is a “defeat device,” as defined by the CAA.

Regulators in the State of California issued an In-Use Compliance letter to Volkswagen and initiated an enforcement investigation regarding all VW model-year 2009 through 2015 light-duty vehicles equipped with 2.0 liter engines.

In addition, the Obama administration recently directed Volkswagen to recall nearly a half-million cars, saying the automaker illegally installed computer software in its diesel-powered cars to evade standards for reducing smog.

ABOUT THE ATTORNEY: After making a decisive move from corporate law to the plaintiff’s bar early in his career, Chris Seeger has forged a pioneer’s path in pursuit of fairness for individuals. His career is distinguished as much by his compassion as by his acumen and accomplishments, earning him leadership appointments in state and federal courts throughout the United States in some of the country’s most complex and noteworthy litigations.

About Seeger Weiss LLP
Founded in 1999, Seeger Weiss LLP represents individual, corporate, and government clients in state and federal courts throughout the country in some of the most complex, groundbreaking, and landmark matters. A trial firm with offices in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Seeger Weiss litigates each case as if it is going to go the distance. We are determined to level the playing field and give a voice for our clients. The results we achieve are characteristic of our unwavering commitment to obtain justice for our clients and our belief in the system that provides for it.

With its diverse mix of big-law veterans, former prosecutors and home-grown rising stars, SW is renowned for a breadth of experience and sophistication that’s striking for a plaintiff’s firm. But it’s ultimately our passion for righting the wrongs, leveling the playing field, and fighting on behalf of those without the resources to take on big corporations which has led us to deliver justice in multiple practice areas, in some of the most significant civil cases in the United States in recent history, including Vioxx, N.F.L., Chinese-Manufactured Drywall, DePuy, and Testosterone Replacement Therapy.

 

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Since its establishment in 1999, Seeger Weiss has led some of the most complex and high-profile litigations in the U.S.