Volkswagen/Audi/Porsche Diesel Emissions Scandal

DEFENDANT NAME: Volkswagen
STOCK SYMBOL:
CASE NUMBER: 3:15-cv-04278
CASE NAME:
COURT: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division
STATUS: Settled
CLASS PERIOD:
LEAD PLAINTIFF DEADLINE:
DATE FILED: 09/18/15
COURT LOCATION:

Did you sell your CleanDiesel vehicle before news of the scandal broke on 9/18/15?
You may be entitled to compensation.

Did you own a VW, Audi or Porsche that runs on diesel?

Volkswagen admitted to cheating emissions tests with an illegal "defeat device" software that bypasses pollution regulations, violating federal laws and consumers' rights. The device has been found in all VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles equipped with the 2.0 liter or 3.0 liter diesel engines.

Hagens Berman was the first firm in the nation to file a lawsuit against Volkswagen for its emissions fraud and has been named to the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee leading the national fight against VW, Porsche and Audi on behalf of owners and lessors of affected vehicles. Volkswagen has admitted to using the defeat device to cheat emissions standards in the following VW, Porsche and Audi vehicles:

Affected Vehicles

2.0-Liter Models:
2012-15 VW Beetle TDI
2012-15 VW Beetle Convertible TDI
2010-15 VW Golf TDI
2015 VW Golf Sportwagen TDI
2009-15 VW Jetta TDI
2009-14 VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI
2012-15 VW Passat TDI
2010-15 Audi A3 2.0L
3.0-Liter Models:
2009-16 VW Touareg TDI 3.0L
2014-16 Audi A6 Quattro 3.0L
2009-16 Audi Q7 3.0L
2014-16 Audi A8 3.0L
2014-16 Audi A8L 3.0L
2014-16 Audi Q5 3.0L
2014-16 Audi A7 Quattro 3.0L
2013-16 Porsche Cayenne 3.0L

About VW's Emissions Fraud

The EPA determined that the software installed in these vehicles – called a “defeat device” – only turns on full emissions controls when the car is being tested, but otherwise shuts down emissions controls during normal operation.

The lawsuits filed against Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi state that during normal operation, these vehicles emit nitrogen oxides (NOx) at up to 40 times the standard allowed under United States laws and regulations. During emissions tests, the software in the diesel vehicles detects testing, and turns on full emissions controls, but only during the test.

According to the complaint, NOx pollution contributes to nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone, and fine particulate matter. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked with serious health dangers, including asthma attacks and other respiratory illness serious enough to send people to the hospital.

Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi marketed their CleanDiesel vehicles as environmentally conscious, charging higher prices for cars that polluted at illegally high levels. Volkswagen pitched itself to the American public as the world’s foremost innovator of “clean” diesel technology, duping hundreds of thousands of environmentally conscious consumers willing to pay a high price. Consumers believed Volkswagen and bought VW, Audi and Porsche branded “clean” diesel vehicles in record numbers. During the relevant time period, Volkswagen sold more diesel cars in the U.S. than every other automaker combined. There are over half a million cars on American roads with illegal emission systems.

What Laws Did VW Break?

Federal laws through the EPA are designed to protect U.S. citizens from pollution and in particular, certain chemicals and agents known to cause disease in humans. Automobile manufacturers must abide by these laws and must adhere to EPA rules and regulations. Volkswagen broke federal and state laws regarding the environment and consumers’ rights when it knowingly installed the defeat device in the affected vehicles.

The lawsuit accuses Volkswagen of fraudulent concealment, false advertising and violating consumer rights laws, including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, as well as state laws regarding warranties, consumer protection, deceptive trade practices and fraudulent concealment.

owners Rights

Every vehicle sold in the United States must be covered by an EPA-issued certificate of conformity. Under federal law, cars equipped with defeat devices, which reduce the effectiveness of emissions control system during normal driving conditions, cannot be certified. By manufacturing and selling cars with defeat devices that allowed for higher levels of emissions that were certified to EPA, Volkswagen engaged in criminal activity, violated the Clean Air Act, defrauded its customers and engaged in unfair competition under state and federal law.

According to the complaint, vehicle owners suffered loss of vehicle value due to Volkswagen’s future recalls and degrading of performance characteristics such as horsepower and fuel efficiency in order to make the affected vehicles meet EPA standards.

The firm believes that consumers deserve fair compensation for VW’s environmental damage and loss of vehicle value, including the return of the premium that they paid for a CleanDiesel over the cost of the same model and trim of car with a gasoline engine; restitution of the purchase price of their car should any “fix” installed by Volkswagen result in a degradation of performance and/or fuel efficiency; compensation for any additional sums spent on fuel or maintenance as a result of any “fix”; restitution for purchase of extended warranties that will go unused; and a lump sum for remediation of the environmental damage Plaintiffs and the Class unwittingly contributed to by driving cars that they believed were clean, but were in fact in violation of state and EPA regulations and the Clean Air Act.

What DID the Volkswagen Lawsuit Seek?

From reference to Volkswagen's MSRP on its website, vehicle owners who purchased Volkswagen's diesel vehicles paid anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000 more for vehicles with the diesel engines, as opposed to the same models with standard gas engines.

In the lawsuits, plaintiffs sought damages, injunctive relief and equitable relief for the conduct of Volkswagen related to the defeat device. Specifically, the lawsuit sought for plaintiffs:

  • a buy-back program for the Class Vehicles,
  • monetary damages (including treble damages under RICO),
  • appropriate restitution,
  • pollution mitigation,
  • business reforms, and
  • injunctive and other equitable relief.

In addition, Plaintiffs and Class members may be entitled to an award of punitive or exemplary damages, given that, for years, Volkswagen deliberately, and with malice, deceived Plaintiffs and Class members, disregarded their rights, and used them as unwitting puppets in a scheme that jeopardized the safety of the American public.

WERE Other Automakers Involved?

The Dieselgate emissions-cheating fraud began with Volkswagen, but we believe it is not the only automaker guilty of fraudulently representing its emissions. The firm has also filed a national class-action lawsuit against Mercedes-Benz USA for misrepresenting and concealing facts about emissions levels in its BlueTEC diesel vehicles. Specifically, the lawsuit filed against Mercedes states that the automaker knowingly programmed its Clean Diesel vehicles to emit illegal, dangerous levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) at levels 65 times higher than those permitted by the EPA when operating in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Find out more about the lawsuit against Mercedes.

The firm has also sued many other automakers, including Fiat Chrysler, BMW, Ford and General Motors, for emissions cheating. The class-action firm has brought half a dozen lawsuits against Volkswagen for the installation of defeat devices in its vehicles, including the first filed complaint against the automaker. Hagens Berman has also brought high-profile cases against General Motors, Toyota and Kia. The firm's managing partner, Steve Berman was appointed co-lead counsel representing Toyota owners, and in 2013 negotiated a $1.6 billion settlement on behalf of consumers who owned or leased Toyota vehicles that lost value as a result of public disclosures of quality control problems that led to a rash of cases of sudden unintended acceleration.

How Can I Learn More?

To receive email updates and general info about the ongoing litigation at the firm, you can sign up for general updates from Hagens Berman. If you have specific questions about the VW lawsuit, please visit our Volkswagen FAQ and additional section of VW Owner Questions to read questions from other owners. Hagens Berman also maintained a Dieselgate newsroom with high-profile articles during the scandal. Additionally, you can reach Hagens Berman's Volkswagen Emissions legal team by emailing vw@hbsslaw.com with your questions.


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Case Timeline

10/15/18:

Did you sell your CleanDiesel vehicle before news of the scandal broke on 9/18/15?
You may be entitled to compensation.

05/17/17: Case Update

The court issued final approval orders for the 3.0-liter settlement and the Bosch settlement.

To determine if your vehicle is included in the Settlements go to VWCourtsettlement.com and enter your Vehicle Identification (“VIN”). Class members will be able to submit claims through the Online Claims Portal 15 business days after the final approval order is issued by the court. 

If you submit a claim for your vehicle under the 3.0-liter settlement, you will automatically be included in the Bosch settlement. The Bosch settlement is accessible here: https://www.boschvwsettlement.com/

08/30/16: CASE UPDATE

Volkswagen Group of America has submitted proposed settlements to resolve legal claims regarding emissions systems of certain Volkswagen and Audi vehicles that have a 2.0-liter TDI engine. The claims were asserted in a case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. The claims are being pursued by (i) the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, and the California Attorney General, (ii) the Federal Trade Commission, and (iii) a class comprised of owners and lessees of 2.0-liter TDI vehicles throughout the United States. The Court has granted preliminary approval of the proposed class action settlement for certain 2.0-liter TDI owners and lessees. A final approval hearing is scheduled for October 18, 2016.

For information about the compensation options available to you, please read the Court-approved notice carefully, and visit www.VWCourtSettlement.com.

There you can enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and determine if your vehicle is included. You can also access an Online Claims Portal and get individualized information about what the settlements mean for you. The Online Claims Portal will provide the fastest processing of your claim.
 

08/25/16: Volkswagen 3.0-liter Vehicle Update

A Status Conference has been set for Nov. 3, 2016, to further address the 3.0L vehicles. Class counsel is doing everything possible to move the process along swiftly, and the Court encouraged the parties to work expeditiously to get the 3.0L vehicles off the road as soon as possible. Judge Breyer noted that the possibility of a trial as early as the summer of 2017 would “ensure that there is a sense of reality, one, in moving the litigation forward, and two, communicate exactly the sense of urgency that the Court feels must be understood and acted upon by counsel.”

We urge you all to please read the Court’s Transcript from Aug. 25, 2016, which contains information about the status of settlement negotiations over VW/Audi 3.0L engine cars.

07/27/16: Judge Preliminarily Approves $15B Settlement

We are pleased to bring you additional details about the Volkswagen Dieselgate settlement for owners of 2.0-liter Clean Diesel vehicles. Yesterday, Judge Breyer granted preliminary approval of the Class Action Settlement after he reviewed the proposed settlement and made an initial determination that the terms are fair, reasonable and adequate.

Beginning next week, you can see the exact Buyback/Owner Restitution payment and your 2015 clean trade in value by visiting www.VWCourtSettlement.com and entering your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), mileage, and other required information.

Read more »

06/28/16: VW Settlement

On June 28, 2016, Volkswagen agreed to pay $14.7 billion in response to its use of an emissions-cheating software "defeat device" installed in nearly half a million diesel cars. Please see Hagens Berman's VW Owner FAQ for more details »

   VW Settlement Website »
   Court Website »

06/16/16: Case Update: Court Extends Committee's Deadline to 06/28/16

Judge Breyer has extended the deadline for the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee to file its motion for preliminary approval of settlement at the request of the Settlement Master from June 21, 2016 to June 28, 2016. We do not anticipate that this will delay the settlement. The date of the next Status Conference and the Hearing on Preliminary Approval remain unchanged. Download the Order

05/25/16: CASE UPDATE:

We’re pleased to bring you an important update in the class-action lawsuit against Volkswagen. We have appreciated your patience in light of the court-mandated gag order regarding the case, and are excited to share these details.

VW is on target to meet the court’s June 21, 2016 deadline, and we are working toward what the court has deemed a “substantial” settlement with Volkswagen for owners of its CleanDiesel vehicles. At yesterday’s hearing Judge Breyer said:

“I am pleased this morning to announce that the Settlement Master and the parties – Volkswagen, the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, the Department of Justice on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, in conjunction with the California Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission – have reported that in the month since we last met, they have made substantial progress in their intensive daily efforts to finalize the agreements, and, most importantly, are on track to meet the Court’s deadline.”

The public will have an opportunity to comment before the court approves the proposed settlement.

We urge you all to please read the Court’s Transcript from May 24, 2016, which contains new, helpful information about the settlement addressing a buy back, modifications, substantial compensation, environmental remediation and green automotive technology.

Hagens Berman’s VW legal team is here to answer questions you may have about the transcript. Again, thank you for your cooperation.

We will be updating this information on June 21, 2016 when the settlement papers are filed with the court.

04/21/16: CASE UPDATE:

Tentative agreement reached with VW for 2.0-liter diesel vehicles.

Read the Update »
Hearing Transcript »

02/22/16: Consolidated Complaint Filed

On Feb. 22, 2016, the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, which includes Hagens Berman, filed a consolidated complaint on behalf of owners and lessors of Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche affected vehicles. This amended complaint is the first following the VW case consolidation and transfer to Judge Breyer in San Francisco, and moves vehicle owners one step closer to a resolution from Volkswagen. Read the consolidated complaint here »

01/15/16: CASE UPDATE:

Hagens Berman has applied for a leadership position in the consolidated VW emissions litigation. The Honorable Judge Charles R. Breyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California will appoint lead counsel for the case in January, after which the case will begin moving forward with a focus on a quick resolution for consumers.

For more updates on the case, including emissions tests, the DOJ's lawsuit and more, watch the latest video update from Steve Berman. more »

12/08/15: CASE UPDATE:
Consolidated VW Cases Moved to Northern District of California

Today, the Multi-District Litigation Panel consolidated the now over 450 cases nationwide against VW and assigned the cases to Judge Breyer in the Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Hagens Berman is very pleased with this assignment. Our first case, which was the first case in the United States, was filed in this same court. Hagens Berman has appeared and successfully litigated many cases in this Court, including before Judge Breyer, whom we know to be a highly capable, experienced, and fair judge. We have no doubt that Judge Breyer will oversee an expeditious and fair resolution of the Volkswagen Emissions litigation.

11/07/15: UPDATE

On Nov. 3, 2015, the EPA issued Volkswagen a second Notice of Violation (NOV) accusing VW of using defeat devices in several of its larger diesel-powered automobiles utilizing a 3.0 liter engine. The NOV indicated that EPA testing revealed that these vehicles on-road testing showed emissions levels at up to nine times the permitted amounts.

The vehicles listed in the NOV are: 2014 VW Touareg, 2015 Porsche Cayenne, or 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, or Q5. If you own or lease a VW, Porsche, or Audi vehicle that has a 3.0 liter diesel engine, submit your information or engage HB, and we will keep you posted on all important events in the ongoing litigation.