VW Owners Seek Trial If There'south Number Fix in Emissions Case

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Source:   —  April 19, 2016, at 8:52 PM

The request was made in a proposed agenda for hearing Thursday before Senior U. S. District Ct Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco. It says the owners wish an expedited hearing or a trial before the judge to obtain an order for "fair relief" that'd start in July.

Lawyers representing thousands of people who own diesel Volkswagens that cheat on emissions tests are asking a judge to order repairs and compensation if the company and government regulators don't consent to a fix by Thursday.

The request was made in a proposed agenda for hearing Thursday before Senior U. S. District Ct Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco.

It says the owners wish an expedited hearing or a trial before the judge to obtain an order for "fair relief" that'd start in July. Or they wish a full trial that'd comprise punitive damages against VW in the same time frame.

Volkswagen says in the document that it doesn't believe a hearing or trial is appropriate, apparently because progress is being made toward a fix and compensation. A solution could be revealed at Thursday's hearing.

Lawyers for the owners made the trial request in an effort to move the case along, said Carl Tobias, a law Prof at the Univ of Richmond. The cases have lingered since latest fall with the polluting cars still on the road, leaving owners to ponder if VW will purchase them back or arrive up with a repair that'll damage their performance and fuel mileage.

The owners filed dozens of lawsuits against VW after it acknowledged in Sept that it intentionally defeated emissions tests and keep filthy vehicles on the road. The cheating allowed cars to pass laboratory emissions tests while spewing harmful nitrogen oxide at up to forty times the level allowed when operating on real roads.

"I think a lot depends on what progress has been made or whether the judge is satisfied, or whether he moves on to the proposals that the plaintiffs are offering," Tobias said, adding that it might be challenging to be prepared for a trial in July.

The first item on Thursday'south agenda is a report on the status of fixing the cars and "related discussions." It also includes a request to add the Federal Trade Commission to the case. The FTC has sued VW alleging dishonest advertising. The owners' lawyers also are seeking documents that Volkswagen provided to the law firm Jones Day, which the company has hired to inquire into how the cheating happened.

Volkswagen and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has accused the company of cheating, wouldn't comment on whether an agreement would be announced at Thursday's hearing.

The Justice Department, which has sued VW on behalf of the EPA, said in the agenda document that it'd withhold comment on the request for a trial until it finds out what claims and issues would be tried. A spokesman wouldn't comment Tuesday.

A message was left Tuesday morning for Elizabeth Cabraser, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

During a hearing in March, Breyer said that VW and government regulators should present a detailed map within a mo on getting the cars to abide by with spotless air laws, or risk the opportunity of a trial this summer. Breyer said he wants to know the timing of the fix and any planned payments to owners, among other details, by Thursday.

The judge also said that former FBI Director Robert Mueller told him Volkswagen, government regulators and attorneys for car owners had made substantial progress toward a resolution that'd obtain the polluting cars off the road. He didn't allow any details. Breyer appointed Mueller to oversee settlement talks.

The parties weren't able to immediately announce the solution because engineering technicalities and other necessary issues still needed to be resolved, Breyer said Mueller told him.

Volkswagen has hired compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg to arrive up with a formula to pay diesel owners due to the cheating. But he says he can't get any action until VW, the EPA and the CA Air Resources Board consent on a fix.

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