After a frenzy of class action lawsuits in the US since the Environmental Protection Agency revealed Volkswagen's emissions test cheating on 18 September, lawyers are now moving to consolidate widespread litigation into a prolonged legal case expected to spur rafts of depositions and demands for billions of dollars in damages, a media report said.
According to the Wall Street Journal, plaintiffs’ lawyers filed more than two dozen lawsuits in courts across the US within days of the EPA disclosure and VW has since admitted as many as 11m vehicles worldwide employ so-called defeat devices, or software that can make cars appear cleaner than they are during regulatory tests and disable emissions controls during normal driving conditions.
The WSJ said lawyers across the US are jockeying to move class action lawsuits, expected to number in the hundreds, before one federal judge for a lengthy case. Such consolidated lawsuits are called multidistrict litigation, or MDL, since they are culled from legal actions across different jurisdictions.
The report said plaintiffs’ lawyers are accusing VW of defrauding consumers who are suffering declining vehicle values [similar to claims made against GM and Toyota after the respective 'ignition switch' and 'sudden acceleration' recalls – ed]. The lawyers also seeking recompense for consumers who paid higher prices – in some cases premiums exceeding US$6,000 – for models advertised as clean diesel cars with impressive power, fuel economy and emissions.
The suits are expected to seek billions of dollars of damages, lawyers told the WSJ, though they specific figures have not been cited. While a judicial panel has yet to decide whether to consolidate the Volkswagen litigation, many lawyers expect action in coming weeks, the report said.