The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Class Action Fairness filed an amicus brief today before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, the body deciding which court will consolidate pending federal litigation against Volkswagen. More than 175 class action suits have been filed in the aftermath of the automaker's emissions scandal, and CEI is concerned the Judicial Panel will not consider judicial track records in scrutinizing the fairness of settlements when deciding who to transfer the case to. Volkswagen recently admitted to selling consumers “clean diesel” vehicles after knowingly equipping the vehicles with devices that would dupe emissions tests; retrofitting the vehicles to meet regulatory standards would likely adversely affect performance and value.
“There will eventually be a class action settlement in the Volkswagen case,” said Ted Frank, director of CEI’s Center for Class Action Fairness. “For that reason, it’s important that this happen before a judge who can assure the class members get the settlements they are entitled to, rather than a sweetheart deal for the plaintiff lawyers and Volkswagen, who will want to simply end the case quickly. We are the only ones raising this issue.”
The location of where the litigation will take place is being fiercely debated, because plaintiffs' firms could receive a potential windfall of millions of dollars, at the expense of consumers, if they are appointed to lead committees solely based on geographic proximity. The Judicial Panel is scheduled to hear about the Volkswagen class actions at its meeting in New Orleans on December 3, 2015.