The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Tuesday consolidated more than 500 suits accusing Volkswagen of cheating emissions standards, saying California federal court in San Francisco is the best venue given that nearly one-fifth of the suits were filed in the Golden State.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which heard arguments last week on where to transfer more than 500 class actions filed by Volkswagen consumers in 60 federal courts. Volkswagen wanted the cases consolidated in Virginia or Detroit.
“Relevant documents and witnesses may be found in both the Northern District and throughout California, given the role played by the California Air Resources Board in uncovering VW’s use of defeat devices on its diesel engines,” the panel wrote in a seven-page order.
The JPML assigned U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer to oversee the MDL, saying the veteran federal judge is well-versed in complex MDLs, having presided over nine such cases.
“We are confident that Judge Breyer will steer this controversy on a prudent and expeditious course,” the order states.
Tuesday’s transfer order is the latest in a sprawling case that alleges that Volkswagen used defeat devices in some of its “clean” diesel vehicles in order to appear to comply with emissions standards while exceeding allowable levels of chemicals emitted into the air.
The vast majority of cases against Volkswagen are nationwide class actions filed by consumers alleging they were duped into paying premium prices for “clean diesel” cars that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said emit as much as 40 times the standard for nitrogen oxides. Volkswagen has admitted that 11 million vehicles, including 482,000 cars in the United States, have a “defeat device” in them designed to cheat emissions tests.
The plaintiffs in the various suits are represented by Hagens Berman Sobel & Shapiro LLP, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, Heninger Garrison Davis LLC, Girard Gibbs LLP, Hellmuth & Johnson PLLC, The Schmidt Firm PLLC, Morris Polich & Purdy LLP, among many others.
Volkswagen is represented by Mayer Brown LLP.
The case is In re: Volkswagen Clean Diesel Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, case number 2672, before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.