A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a $15 billion settlement between German automaker Volkswagen AG (VW) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California officials and consumers.
Judge Charles Breyer’s ruling allows attorneys to begin gathering information from nearly 500,000 consumers whose diesel-powered vehicles were found to have violated US emissions standards. Under the terms of the agreement, owners will be able to choose between having Volkswagen buy back or fix the vehicles. Final approval for the settlement could come at a hearing on October 18.
VW is facing legal difficulty around the world over the emissions scandal. A law firm in Germany filed a class action lawsuit in March on behalf of investors alleging a breach of duty to the capital market. Last year the Braunschweig public prosecutor’s office opened a criminal investigation [JURIST report] of former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, following accusations that the company cheated on government emissions tests by manipulating exhaust valves. The investigation followed several criminal complaints, including one filed by VW, and came less than a week after Winterkorn stepped down as CEO of the company. In his statement he accepted “responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines” and said that he was “clearing the way for this fresh start with [his] resignation.”