The first of 300 “Dieselgate” lawsuits have settled just one day before going on trial.
Judge Bruce White of Virginia state court rejected a last-minute plea from Volkswagen Automotive Group to delay the trial due to “inflammatory” comments made by the prosecution, setting the stage for a showdown to begin on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. However, VW reached a settlement with the disgruntled North Carolina man who was suing them over false emissions claims of their turbo-diesel engined vehicles.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, according to Reuters.
Volkswagen made national headlines back in 2015 when the second largest automaker in the world admitted to cheating on emissions tests for their diesel vehicles, claiming they spewed less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than they actually did. To avoid costly trials, Volkswagen offered buybacks to the nearly 500,000 owners of diesel vehicles—an offer most US owners accepted
However, about 2000 owners held out seeking additional compensation. One such owner was David Doar of North Carolina, the owner of a 2014 Jetta he paid $23,700 for. Doar rejected the class-action settlement and demanded $750,000 from Volkswagen as well as lawyer’s fees for fraud and unfair trade practices.
Doar is represented by Virginia lawyer Mike Melkersen, who appeared in a recent Netflix documentary called Dirty Money, which exposed the previous testing of diesel fumes on monkeys by Volkswagen.
Volkswagen argued this was enough to prejudice the jury and asked for a delay in the trial, a delay which Judge White denied saying, “The jurors don’t know much about these cases.”
With their last-ditch effort refused, Volkswagen settled with Doar for an undisclosed sum.
A new trial after the 2016 class-action settlement would be horrible for Volkswagen as it continues to suffer the after-effects of “Dieselgate”. Having Volkswagen executives and owners testifying in court would re-open old wounds in the public psyche that Volkswagen would pay anything to remain closed.
Melkersen also represents roughly 300 more Volkswagen owners still awaiting trial. The next Volkswagen owner is set to appear in court on June 4.