December 2, 2015 — Federal judges meet tomorrow to decide whether to centralize 350 lawsuits involving Volkswagen (VW) emissions fraud into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL).
Reuters reports that VW and the Justice Department want the cases heard in Detroit before U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen. Attorneys for car-owners have requested centralization in Washington, Texas, Virginia, or California.
Lawsuits have been filed in more than 40 states, including dozens of class actions and several securities lawsuits involving pension funds and stockholders.
VW has asked the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consider separating the MDL into one track for securities lawsuits and another track for car-owners. Because VW has already admitted liability, the courts will only be considering damages against the automaker.
Federal judges in at least 13 states have already paused the litigation while waiting for the JPML to make a decision, presumably to avoid conflicting rulings. Centralizing the lawsuits for pre-trial proceedings also helps improve efficiency and convenience.
VW has admitted that about 11 million “CleanDiesel” TDI cars worldwide, including 500,000 in the United States, were sold with a “defeat device” designed to cheat emissions. On the road, the cars emit up to 40X the acceptable levels of nitrogen oxide. During emissions testing, the car reduces emissions of nitrogen oxide to meet standards.