Volkswagen settles U.S. diesel owner lawsuit on eve of
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[February 24, 2018]
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG's
<VOWG_p.DE> U.S. unit on Friday resolved a lawsuit brought by a North
Carolina man whose diesel emissions case was set to be the first go to
trial on Monday.
The settlement comes days after Virginia state court Judge Bruce White
rejected a request by the German automaker to delay the trial over
excess emissions because of what it called "inflammatory" comments made
by a lawyer representing car owners that it feared would prejudice a
White approved the case's dismissal on Friday. Virginia Lawyer Mike
Melkersen, who represents David Doar, the North Carolina man along with
more than 300 other U.S. VW diesel owners, said the case had been
dismissed by agreement but he declined to disclose the terms. A
Volkswagen spokeswoman declined to comment.
The first U.S. trial could have resulted in testimony by current and
former VW executives and additional negative publicity stemming from the
emissions scandal. Doar had sued VW over fraud and unfair trade practice
claims and sought punitive damages as well as compensation for the
Doar bought a 2014 diesel Jetta for $23,700 and had rejected a
settlement offer from a 2016 class-action agreement that would have
reimbursed him for the value of the vehicle. He had sought $725,000 plus
attorneys fees in legal filings. The next trial is set for June 4
involving another diesel owner.
Volkswagen said in early February publicity from a Netflix documentary
that disclosed the company had jointly sponsored tests exposing monkeys
in 2014 to toxic diesel fumes could prejudice its chances of receiving a
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A Volkswagen logo is pictured at the International Auto Show in
Mexico City, Mexico November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero
The German carmaker is being sued by some consumers after it admitted in
September 2015 to cheating on diesel emissions tests, sparking the biggest
business crisis in its history.
Nearly all U.S. owners of affected cars agreed to take part in a $25 billion
settlement in 2016 in the United States that addressed claims from them,
environmental regulators, U.S. states and dealers and included buyback offers
and additional compensation for about 500,000 owners.
About 2,000 owners, however, opted out and most are pursuing court claims
seeking additional compensation.
Volkswagen of America had sought a six-month delay after Melkersen was
interviewed in the Netlfix documentary about the company testing diesel fumes on
Volkswagen lawyers said in legal papers that "pretrial publicity has connected
(the company) directly with Hitler and the Holocaust," which they said was not
relevant to a trial about claims of consumer fraud.
Judge Bruce White had ruled that a fair jury could be seated. "The jurors don't
know much about these cases," White said Tuesday of high-profile cases.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Diane Craft)
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