Volkswagen settled a major diesel emissions class action lawsuit brought by hundreds of vehicle owners right before the case was set to go to trial. The German auto giant’s US division settled the lawsuit brought by a North Carolina man and over 300 other owners of diesel cars who allege fraud and unfair trade practices.
The trial could have featured testimony from current and former VW executives and would likely have caused a spate of bad press for the automaker regarding the Dieselgate scandal. Since it first broke in 2015, the controversy has led to the resignation of VW’s CEO, seen a handful of executives sentenced to jail, and resulted in billions of dollars in fines and settlements.
VW is being sued by some consumers after it admitted to using software to cheat on diesel emissions tests, sparking the biggest scandal to hit the auto industry in decades. David Doar, the North Carolina man along with more than 300 other US VW diesel owners, rejected settlement offers from a 2016 class action that would have reimbursed them for the value of their vehicles.
Nearly all US owners of affected VW vehicles agreed to take part in a $25 billion settlement in 2016, which included buyback offers and additional compensation for about 500,000 owners. But according to Reuters, some 2,000 owners have opted out, and most are pursuing separate claims seeking additional compensation.
VW was featured in a Netflix documentary series about corruption, which disclosed that the company had jointly sponsored tests exposing monkeys to toxic diesel fumes in 2014. The company argued that publicity from the documentary could prejudice its chances of receiving a fair trial. VW had sought to delay the trial after Doar’s lawyer was interviewed for the documentary, but a judge rejected the request.