On December 8, 2015, the U.S. Panel on Multidistrict Litigation filed an Order to consolidate more than 450 Volkswagen diesel emissions class action lawsuits filed nationwide into the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer will preside over the litigation.
Consolidating the class action lawsuits into one federal jurisdiction under one judge will streamline pre-trial processes and rulings, as well as conserve the resources of Volkswagen, plaintiffs’ law firms, and the judiciary.
Girard Gibbs LLP supported consolidation and transfer of the cases to the Northern District of California, and Eric Gibbs was in attendance at the December 3 Panel hearing.
In a statement to the National Law Journal following the Order, Mr. Gibbs cited Judge Breyer’s experience with multidistrict litigation as a deciding factor in the Panel’s decision to transfer the Volkswagen cases to San Francisco:
“The panel was searching for that type of judge: seasoned, particularly in large MDL matters with docket conditions that could accommodate what could be a very burdensome case for a shorter period of time. They figured out that Judge Breyer fit that bill, and I doubt there’s anyone in the country who would disagree.”
Judge Breyer will hold an initial Volkswagen status conference on December 22, 2015 that Girard Gibbs LLP will attend.
Panel Chooses California as Site for Volkswagen Multidistrict Litigation
Before issuing the Order, the Panel heard arguments from Volkswagen and plaintiffs’ lawyers across the country advocating for consolidation in 28 different federal districts. Volkswagen initially supported consolidation in the Eastern District of Michigan – the location of the Environmental Protection Agency testing facilities and Volkswagen’s Engineering and Environmental Office – and the Eastern District of Virginia, where Volkswagen Group of America and a similar division of Audi are based. Plaintiffs’ firms advocated for transfer to districts across the nation.
The Panel acknowledged that the litigation “touches” multiple districts across the U.S., and that Volkswagen’s entities hold ties to various districts, as well. However, the Order also acknowledges:
“California is the State with the most affected vehicles, where significant testing of the vehicles occurred, and the home of the California Air Resources Board, which played an important initial role in investigating and, ultimately, revealing VW’s use of the defeat devices.”
According to the Order, there are 30 actions currently pending in the Northern District of California, including the first Volkswagen diesel emissions class action filed in the country. Nearly one-fifth of the Volkswagen cases filed by plaintiffs’ nationwide were fled in California.
Girard Gibbs’ Volkswagen Class Action Lawsuit
Three days after Volkswagen admitted to federal regulators that it used illegal software to cheat emissions tests on certain of its 4-cylinder diesel cars, Girard Gibbs LLP filed a nationwide class action lawsuit to protect the rights of Volkswagen and Audi drivers. The lawsuit alleges that drivers of Volkswagen TDI vehicles were promised “clean diesel” vehicles, fuel efficiency, and horsepower and torque. The lawsuit seeks to hold Volkswagen accountable to these promises, and to get compensation for Volkswagen owners if the company’s fix to the emissions problem compromises the vehicles’ performance or fuel efficiency.