December 9, 2015 — The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has centralized over 500 lawsuits involving illegal emissions software in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California under Judge Charles R. Breyer.
The case is In re: Volkswagen Clean Diesel Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2672).
Lawyers for plaintiffs in 63 lawsuits pending in various district courts requested centralization. The JPML said it was aware of another 451 lawsuits pending in over 60 federal districts.
All of the lawsuits involve 2.0 and 3.0-liter diesel engines sold by Volkswagen that allegedly contain software that enables the vehicles to cheat on emissions tests. According to the EPA, the cars emit up to 40X the acceptable level of nitrogen oxide on the road than they do during testing.
Most of the lawsuits are class actions filed on behalf of owners of the affected vehicles. According to the JPML, centralization will eliminate duplicate discovery, avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings, and conserve the resources of everyone involved.
One reason the district was chosen is because the California Air Resources Board (CARB) played a role in uncovering Volkswagen’s use of illegal software on its diesel engines. 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.”