Virginia judge rejects stay for VW cases

Peter Vieth//November 6, 2015

Virginia judge rejects stay for VW cases

Peter Vieth//November 6, 2015

Alexandria U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady has refused to put the brakes on litigation over Volkswagen’s admitted “cheating diesels.”

With eight consolidated cases pending in the district that is home to the corporate headquarters of Volkswagen Group of America Inc., O’Grady now has appointed three law firms as lead counsel for the diesel lawsuits.

The firms appointed in the Nov. 3 order are:

  • Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll of Washington;
  • Kessler, Topaz, Meltzer, Check of Pennsylvania; and
  • Cooper & Kirk of Washington.

O’Grady earlier denied Volkswagen’s motion to stay the cases to avoid possible duplication. VW noted similar consolidated cases are pending in other courts.

“These cases present circumstances that need immediate attention,” O’Grady wrote in an Oct. 27 order.

Pointing  to statements from Volkswagen’s CEO apologizing for technology that would trick inspectors into believing some 500,000 autos complied with low-emission claims, O’Grady cited two reasons for speed.

“First, the cars at issue in this case are emitting harmful pollutants into the atmosphere at alarming levels. The plaintiffs are forced, every day, to choose between leaving their cars unused or driving cars they know will discharge unlawful levels of pollution … ,” O’Grady wrote.

Second, the judge said, inspectors could force some of those cars off the road for failure to meet pollution standards.

Federal judges in two other jurisdictions have selected different plaintiffs’ firms to serve as lead counsel for cases against Volkswagen. Those judges also have appointed mediators to get talks going, according to Reuters.

The seven-judge Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will consider consolidation of the Volkswagen cases nationwide at a Dec. 3 hearing. The still-open question is what court will be chosen to host the 350 or more class action claims targeting the automaker.


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