In move that Volkswagen hopes will begin to help put its recent bad publicity over lying to the government and to consumers in the rearview mirror now knows where the case will be conducted. Northern California was named as the venue for the Volkswagen A.G. Emissions litigation surprising some as both the plaintiffs and Volkswagen were interested in other venues. This case, which gained a great deal of publicity due to consumers being lied to about air quality of its “clean diesels”, deals with consumers who have joined a class action suit in 60 different federal courts. This venue decision was made by the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.
This case involves more than 500 class actions that allege that Volkswagen purposefully set out to deceive consumers by claiming in advertisements that it was producing clean diesel cars. The truth is that Volkswagen vehicles which were produced under the clean diesel brand were actually as much as 40 times higher than the standards for nitrogen oxides allowed by the United States law. Volkswagen admitted that around 11 million of their purported clean diesels had a rigged system set up to “defeat” emissions tests when the system sensed it was being evaluated. The vehicles were temporarily cleaner while the testing equipment was connected to the cars, then went to normal operations when the equipment was removed.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit and attorneys for Volkswagen attempted to have the cases moved to Michigan or Virginia. The plaintiffs also stated, through attorneys, that they would be satisfied if the cases were conducted in Tennessee or New Jersey. The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation opted instead for the case to be heard in the Northern District of California because one-fifth of all Volkswagen cases were filed there, and even more specifically, 30 cases were filed in the Northern District.
Another reason the Norther District was chosen is Judge Charles Breyer works there. Judge Breyer, the brother of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, has a great deal of experience in working with multidistrict court cases. Judge Breyer is currently presiding over a trial that concerns price fixing among airlines. Several of the airlines involved are the world’s largest.