On June 28, 2016, a proposed class action settlement on behalf of consumers who are owners or lessees of Volkswagen and Audi 2.0 L TDI vehicles was filed in the multidistrict litigation titled, In re: Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litig., MDL No. 2672 CRB.
The Honorable Charles M. Breyer, who oversees the litigation, preliminarily approved the proposed settlement on July 29, 2016 and set a final approval hearing date for October 18, 2016. The settlement will substantially compensate owners and lessees of Volkswagen or Audi 2.0-liter TDI vehicles ("Eligible Vehicles") through cash payments, buybacks, modifications, or lease terminations. Finkelstein Thompson LLP's partner, Rosemary Rivas, who manages the firm's San Francisco office, serves on the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee appointed by Judge Breyer. If the Court approves the settlement, it will be the largest consumer auto industry class action settlement in U.S. history.
In summary, the proposed settlement provides Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter TDI vehicle owners and lessees a choice between (1) a Buyback (based on pre-September 18, 2015 market value) (or in case of lessees, a Lease Termination), and (2) a free Approved Emissions Modification. Additionally, consumers are eligible to receive a cash payment ranging, for most owners, from $5,100 to approximately $10,000 per vehicle.
Furthermore, under companion settlements with the EPA and CARB, which are incorporated into the class action settlement agreement, Volkswagen will pay an additional $2.7 billion into a mitigation trust to fund environmental remediation and will commit another $2.0 billion to promote non-polluting cars ("Zero Emissions Vehicles") above any amounts Volkswagen previously planned to spend on such technology. EPA and CARB will monitor, and the Court will enforce, Volkswagen's compliance with the Trust payment and the ZEV investment. Volkswagen will have to pay additional money to a mitigation trust if it fails to remove from commerce or modify 85% of covered 2.0 L vehicles by June 30, 2019. Volkswagen has also reached companion agreements with the Federal Trade Commission as well as over 40 State Attorneys General.