Friday, September 25, 2015 - The recent reports of Volkswagen‘s massive cover up of false emissions information and test results have spurred many to posit that multidistrict litigation will almost surely be in the company‘s future. More than 11 million vehicles world wide were involved in the falsification of the emissions data by the German automotive manufacturer, a number that is sure to elicit a large number of lawsuits from all over the country, making the possibility of multidistrict litigation to expedite the litigative process all but a forgone conclusion.
The first motion to transfer Volkswagen lawsuits into multidistrict litigation was made September 23 and requested that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralize the lawsuits in the Central District of California federal court before U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin. At the time of the filing, there at least 20 lawsuits around the country filed against Volkswagen concerning the falsified diesel allgations.
Many in the legal world are attempting to pinpoint which district court the lawsuits will be centralized in if the likely possibility of class certification comes to fruition. To date, at least six separate cases have already been filed in the Central District of California federal court and it is one of the more likely districts to which the lawsuits will be consolidated. The motion to transfer also points out that California‘s Air Resource Board has been working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency throughout the investigation of the emissions falsifications.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report September 18 detailing the complex defeat devices employed by Volkswagen that were employed to lower the emissions data fo their vehicles, boosting their value substantially under false pretenses. The findings discovered that four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars with model years 2009-2015 were built with technology that enabled the vehicles to cloak the Nox pollutants used by the EPA to test emissions rates. In addition to violating the Clean Air Act, the lawsuits claim that Volkswagen was also in violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.
Early eastimates have Volkswagen losing up to as much as $34 billion total as a result of the emissions falsifications. In addition to the loss of future sale and the massive recall that will have to take place in response to the findings, the government and private lawsuits that will be filed against the company will make up a large part of the expense required to be paid by the automotive manufacturer.
Close to 500,000 Volkswagen cars have been sold in the U.S. since 2008, which the recent allegations point to as the year the falsification of the records began. Though most of these do not run on diesel, the market hit on the company as a whole is expected to be large as the U.S. accounts for nearly 7 percent of the company‘s car sales. The motion to consolidate came on the same day that the Volkswagen CEO announced his resignation from the company in the wake of the emissions controversy. The New York Attorney Generl Eric Schneidermann also announced that his department will be opening an investigation into the matter on Wednesday.