More than 500 lawsuits alleging Volkswagen cheated emissions standards have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation in California federal court in San Francisco, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation announced. According to Law360, more than a fifth of the suits have been filed in California, making San Francisco an appropriate venue. There are 513 federal lawsuits filed across the country, and 100 have been filed in the Golden State. Thirty actions are pending in California’s Northern District.
The JPML stated in an order, “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,” U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer will be presiding over the litigation, given his extensive experience. The Honorable Breyer has overseen nine MDLs, according to Law360. The order states, “We are confident that Judge Breyer will steer this controversy on a prudent and expeditious course,”
The lawsuits allege Volkswagen employed software that allowed vehicles to apparently comply with emissions standards while actually releasing excessive levels into the air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused the company of violating federal emissions standards in September. The agency said Volkswagen admitted to the emissions violations when questioned about the results of a third party emissions test. Volkswagen said roughly 11 million cars were affected by the emissions scheme.