Judge gives early OK to Volkswagen settlement

Judge gives early OK to Volkswagen settlement

Judge gives early OK to Volkswagen settlement

On Tuesday, a federal judge in San Francisco gave preliminary approval to a $15 billion settlement proposed by Volkswagen Group and Justice Department lawyers back in June.

The settlement involves the US Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission as well as the State of California and private plaintiffs.

Attorneys for Volkswagen owners sought approval from U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer, who is overseeing consumer lawsuits and government allegations that the company's diesel engines cheated on U.S. emissions tests. Volkswagen admitted in September to rigging the vehicles to appear to be in compliance during emissions tests but to in reality spew higher than legal levels of pollutants.

The owners will be able to use a settlement website to determine the amount they will get from the company.

Final approval of the class-action lawsuit settlement could come at a hearing October 18, at which point compensation could begin immediately. Vehicle buybacks are expected to begin as soon as final approval is granted, lawyers said in court.

VW and Audi owners whose cars qualify for the buyback will also have the option to refuse the buyback and have the cars fixed so that they comply with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.

"We have designed a settlement that places the consumers - the owners and lessees - in a central, decisive role", said Elizabeth Cabraser, lead attorney for Volkswagen owners.

In addition, the carmaker will spend $2.7 billion to support environmental projects, including construction of an extensive network of fast-recharging stations for electric vehicles in California, with an additional $2 billion earmarked for research on reducing emissions.

Breyer said he wants another update on the 3.0 liter vehicle talks at an Aug 25 hearing.

Volkswagen said the settlement that was ratified on Tuesday includes the following diesel cars: 2013- 2015 Beetle; 2010-2015 Golf; 2009-2015 Jetta; 2012-2015 Passat; and 2010-2013 and 2015 Audi A3.

The Plaintiffs' Committee for Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" Litigation said it was pleased with the approval, as you can read below.

The deal does not cover about 85,000 more powerful Volkswagens and Audis with 3-liter engines also caught up in the emissions scandal.

Volkswagen still faces a Justice Department criminal probe over the emissions scandal and potential civil and criminal penalties. Joshua Van Eaton, an attorney with the Justice Department, told the court Tuesday that regulators are working closely with Volksagen on a technical fix and should have more information on those vehicles at an August 25 hearing.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently lobbed his own lawsuit against the company. Doing so may result in civil and/or criminal penalties.

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