Volkswagen has offered diesel-powered car owners $1,000 in gift cards and vouchers in an obvious effort to regain their customers’ trust. This comes after Volkswagen confessed to rigging more than 11 million of their vehicles worldwide with software to cheat on United States emissions standards. This “goodwill offering” is divided into two $500 cards: a $500 Visa debit card and a $500 dealership credit to be used in availing services, such as an oil change, at VW dealerships. It appears that three years of roadside assistance is also apparently offered. VW claims that acceptance of the offer will not prohibit the car owners from taking part in any class-action or individual suit against the company, or exclude them from any future compensation. However, as you might expect, things are not always as they appear.
We advise that recipients postpone use of the cars until VW’s legal counsel confirms that doing so will not jeopardize owners’ existing and future claims against the automaker. Specifically, we want to make sure that VW won’t try to invoke an arbitration clause that is in the terms and conditions of the $500 Visa debit card. Since VW created this mess through fraud and deceit, we can expect those habits will be hard to break. The 482,000 owners of diesel Volkswagens and Audis in the U.S. have been “in limbo” since the middle of September when the scandal first broke out.
The software installed in the cars involved in the scandal turns on pollution controls during emission tests, but turns them off when the car is driven on the road. This means that during all these vehicles’ sojourns on the road, emissions of nitrogen oxide exceed normal and safe limits. The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that cars with the 2-liter 4-cylinder diesel engines emit from 10 up to 40 times the allowable amount while being driven.
There are 11 million VW cars worldwide fitted with the fraudulent software. The company is in the process of recalling 2009 to 2015 model year vehicles across Europe, which come up to about 8.5 million. There’s been no change on this front since our October issue – Volkswagen has no fix available that will both maintain high performance and also meet the emission requirement. Any potential fix will be complex and, more importantly for VW, very expensive. Our firm has partnered with several nationally recognized class action law firms to file a class action lawsuit in New Jersey. Dee Miles, Archie Grubb and Clay Barnett from our firm are handling the cases.
Volkswagen is working hard to steer the hundreds of class-action lawsuits over its emissions-cheating software to the court nearest its current U.S. headquarters or to Detroit, its former location. The automaker has asked a panel of federal judges to combine the more than 350 lawsuits filed against the automaker in federal court in Alexandria, Va. Detroit was listed by Volkswagen as an alternate choice. We believe the proper court would be in New Jersey.
A hearing before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to decide where the cases will be consolidated is set for Dec. 3 in New Orleans. The seven-judge panel will determine whether the cases will be combined and which judge will oversee the suits. We are confident the lawsuits will be combined in an MDL. If you need more information concerning any aspect of the ongoing saga, contact Dee Miles, Archie Grubb or Clay Barnett at 800-898-2034 or by email at Dee.Miles@beasleyallen.com, Archie.Grubb@beasleyallen.com or Clay.Barnett@beasleyallen.com. These lawyers will be glad to assist you.
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