December 9, 2015 — Federal judges have centralized over 500 lawsuits accusing Volkswagen (VW) of selling cars that cheat emissions testing into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2672) in California.
The order (PDF) centralizes cases in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California under Judge Charles R. Breyer.
Attorneys representing plaintiffs in 63 lawsuits requested centralization. The judges were aware of another 451 lawsuits pending in 60 federal district courts, mostly class actions. All of the lawsuits accuse Volkswagen of fraud for selling vehicles with 2.0 and 3.0-liter diesel engines designed to cheat on emissions testing.
The so-called “CleanDiesel” engines were marketed as environmentally-friendly and cost up to $7,000 more than similar gas engines, but actually spewed up to 40X the acceptable level of nitrogen oxide on the road than during emissions tests.
Judges listed several reasons for choosing the Northern District of California. The state is home to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which played a role in uncovering Volkswagen’s use of emissions-cheating software. According to the JPML:
“There are 30 actions pending in the Northern District of California, including the first-filed case in the nation, and plaintiffs have filed a total of 101 cases in the state of California – nearly a fifth of all cases filed nationwide.”
Centralizing the litigation helps eliminate duplicative discovery, avoids inconsistent pretrial rulings, and conserves the resources of the parties, their attorneys, and the judiciary. The case is In re: Volkswagen Clean Diesel Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation.