Volkswagen announced on Dec. 17, 2015, that it was hiring Ken Feinberg to devise a claims resolution plan for VW diesel owners affected by the cheat device scandal. Feinberg is one of the nation’s top compensation experts, having recently handled claims programs stemming from the General Motors ignition switch scandal and the BP PLC Deepwater Horizon disaster. I am confident that Ken has the ability to craft a fair and efficient compensation payment plan for owners of the affected diesels.
Based on our firm’s past history with Ken Fienberg, I believe his selection was a smart move on behalf of the automaker, very likely to be beneficial to both consumers and VW. Lawyers in our firm have worked with Ken on a number of high-profile cases. He recently completed his work as head of the General Motors Ignition Compensation Claims Resolution Facility, where he oversaw the processing of thousands of personal injury and wrongful death claims submitted by victims and families of persons killed because of GM’s defective ignition switches. Ken also administered compensation funds for victims of BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a case in which Beasley Allen lawyers were actively involved. We represented the State of Alabama and thousands of individual and business claimants located throughout the Gulf Coast Region. We also represented a number of local governmental entities that had claims.
Ken Feinberg has extensive experience with this type of complicated litigation, and he has proven himself to be fair and thorough. I’m pleased that Ken will be handling these claims. I am confident that his work will be good for consumers and also good for the company. Ken is assisted by the very able Camille Biros and a talented staff.
Volkswagen has admitted to writing code into the software of nearly half a million diesel vehicles it sold in the U.S. that turned on pollution controls when it detected the vehicle to be in emissions inspection and shut them off in normal daily use. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated the vehicles could emit up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide than allowed by federal law. The automaker has not said how it will fix the problem, but the installation of proper emissions controls will almost certainly translate to slower, heavier vehicle performance. Lawyers from Beasley Allen are joining with other firms to file a nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of Volkswagen owners.
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation convened in New Orleans on Dec. 8 to hear lawyers’ arguments concerning which federal court was best qualified to preside over the consolidated class action litigation against VW. The Panel released its findings a week later by issuing a transfer order to the Northern District of California. Recognizing that this controversy touches multiple districts across the United States, the Panel stated, “We are persuaded that, in these circumstances, the Northern District of California is the appropriate transferee district for this litigation.”
Volkswagen claims that it has been working to engineer a fix for the emissions cheating software. Toward the end of November, Volkswagen announced its Euro fix. The fix in Europe consists of a software update and a slight intake modification for some models. The 2.0-liter engines will receive a software update whereas the 1.6-liter engines will receive a software update as well as a “flow transformer” added in front of the air mass sensor. The “flow transformer” is merely a plastic screen that calms the air entering the air mass sensor, promoting more accurate air volume measurement. This may work for the Euro standards but it’s almost certainly inadequate for the U.S. emissions standards. This is because the current U.S. Tier 2 emissions standards are twice as stringent as Europe’s Euro 5 standards.
An American fix has yet to be announced. With 480,000 vehicles affected in the U.S., the Volkswagen litigation is swiftly heading toward trial and our lawyers are working very hard getting ready for this litigation. On Dec. 2, prior to the Judicial Panel hearing, Clay Barnett and Archie Grubb, lawyers in the firm’s Consumer Fraud and Commercial Litigation Section, made presentations at two separate VW class action update conferences in New Orleans, La. If you need additional information on this litigation, you can contact the two lawyers at 800-898-2034 or by email at Clay.Barnett@beasleyallen.com or Archie.Grubb@beasleyallen.com.
Sources: Motorauthority.com and United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation:
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