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VW Emissions Fraud Settlement – Getting Your Share

Posted by Justin Browne on Jul 08, 2016 in Consumer Alerts

After the highly publicized discovery that Volkswagen circumvented EPA regulations to hide nitric oxide emissions, the automaker is in the middle of the biggest class action settlement in history.

Now that the German auto giant has agreed to settle consumer fraud claims over its emissions scam, the complicated, often lengthy process leading to actually sending out checks begins. This process often takes 18 months or more, and can be frustrating to plaintiffs if they don’t know what’s happening.

Class Action Procedures for VW Owner Compensation

Class action settlements, with which my firm is quite familiar, usually follow a pretty standard scenario:

  • The judge overseeing the settlement appoints a committee of experienced lawyers to draw up a settlement distribution plan on behalf of all the plaintiffs
  • The judge then reviews the plan and either approves it or sends it back for revisions
  • The judge then appoints a Settlement Administrator to oversee implementation of the final plan
  • Plaintiffs are notified and public ads are run
  • The Settlement Administrator reviews documents provided by lawyers for the plaintiffs to determine compensation owed
  • After the judge signs off on all expenses and payouts, checks are distributed

Is Your Vehicle Affected?

Volkswagen has agreed to pay $10 billion to settle claims by some 475,000 U.S. Volkswagen and Audi owners and $4.7 billion in environmental incentives to the U.S. government. Vehicles affected by the settlement are the following 2.0 Liter diesel models:

  • 2009 Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen
  • 2010 Golf, Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Audi A3
  • 2011 Golf, Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Audi A3
  • 2012 Golf, Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Audi A3, Passat
  • 2013 Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Golf, Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Passat Audi A3
  • 2014 Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Golf, Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Passat
  • 2015 Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Golf, Golf Sportwagen, Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Passat, Audi A3

Each affected owner will receive compensation ranging from $5,100 to $10,000, depending on vehicle make and model, and then can choose to either:

  • Sell their vehicle back to Volkswagen at its NADA price as of September 2015, or
  • Once the company has a fix that meets regulators’ approval, allow Volkswagen to modify the vehicle to meet emissions standards, among other benefits. If a fix can’t be devised, owners can choose the buy-back program.

In addition:

  • People who sold their vehicles after September 18, when the scandal was disclosed, will receive half the NADA value
  • Lessees will get some restitution and can terminate their leases with no penalty

Volkswagen reportedly has set aside enough money to buy back everyone’s vehicles, but owners have until May 2018 to decide which offer to take. Litigation regarding vehicles with 3-liter diesel engines and any civil penalties for violating the Clean Air Act have yet to be resolved. The settlement also does not address lawsuits from investors or the criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

VW Agrees to Compensate for Environmental Damage

Volkswagen also has agreed to pay $2.7 billion to be used by states to cut diesel emissions by replacing older, government-owned trucks, buses and other diesel- fueled vehicles now in use. Volkswagen will pay another $2 billion to promote green energy and zero-emission vehicles.

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