Posts tagged as:

Volkswagen

August 6 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 6, 2010

Ted Frank’s Center for Class Action Fairness has filed an objection to the proposed settlement. Earlier here.

Lawyers sued German automaker VW charging that water could leak into the car from the sunroofs on some of its models. Ted Major is not enthralled with the resulting settlement:

For many class members (such as myself), the only benefit they will receive is a piece of paper to put into the owner’s manual that says “check your sunroof drains every 40,000 miles.” That’s it, no reimbursement, no inspection, no free drain cleaning, nothing.

Lawyers say that and other benefits to class members, including an $8 million repair fund, are worth $125 million and justify a fee of $30 million plus $1.5 million in expenses. A fairness hearing in federal court in New Jersey is scheduled for June 26.

{ 9 comments }

Two readers have written to alert us to this settlement (PDF), including frequent commenter Todd Rogers:

I received notice in the mail [this month] that I’m party to a class action suit against VW USA. I drive a Passat with a “Smart Key.” According to the suit, VW has been naughty because they did not make the key duplication apparatus available enough to locksmiths, third party key duplicators, and the like, in the event that I (we) want to make another key. What would my settlement be? I’m the benefactor of “greater communication” from VW USA.

What do you know…owners of Mercedes Benz suffered the same injury and it was the same firm, Lurie & Weiss, who helped make them whole, as well. Who’s next?

Objections and requests for exclusion must by filed by the end of August, and a fairness hearing is scheduled for Sept. 22 in the courtroom of the Hon. Audrey B. Collins in federal court in Los Angeles.

{ 25 comments }

There was an auto accident in Dallas; plaintiffs sued Volkswagen in Marshall, Texas, in the notoriously plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas, which has a hugely abnormal number of product liability cases—17% of all federal automobile product liability lawsuits in the United States. Let us quote from In re Volkswagen of America, Inc., 506 F.3d 376 (5th Cir.2007), earlier discussed on POL Nov. 27 and Feb. 23:

Volkswagen moved to transfer venue to the Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas (“Dallas Division”). Volkswagen asserted that a transfer was warranted as (1) the Volkswagen Golf was purchased in Dallas County, Texas; (2) the accident occurred on a freeway in Dallas, Texas; (3) Dallas residents witnessed the accident; (4) Dallas police and paramedics responded and took action; (5) a Dallas doctor performed the autopsy; (6) the third-party defendant lives in Dallas County, Texas; (7) none of the plaintiffs live in the Marshall Division; (8) no known party or significant non-party witness lives in the Marshall Division; and (9) none of the facts giving rise to this suit occurred in the Marshall Division.

The district court refused to transfer to the Northern District, VW sought mandamus, and got it on the second try, with the Fifth Circuit ordering transfer. (See also John Council, “5th Circuit Restricts Trial Courts’ Discretion in Venue Motions”, Texas Lawyer, Nov. 5; John Council, “5th Circuit Case Could Reduce Product Liability Caseload in Texas’ Eastern District”, Texas Lawyer, Aug. 7).

In February, however, the Fifth Circuit vacated the decision, and granted en banc rehearing. Argument is Thursday in New Orleans, and the decision will determine whether the Fifth Circuit will tolerate forum shopping in the federal courts. (Michelle Massey, “Appeals court scheduled to hear arguments over forum shopping”, SE Texas Record, May 20). The case is of special importance to the patent bar, given the fact that Marshall, Texas, has become the unlikely capital of United States patent litigation. Blog coverage: PatentlyO, Prior Art.

En banc briefs in 07-40058, In re Volkswagen AG:

Department of Strangely Shifting Academic Positions: In December 2007, law professor Georgene Vairo wrote a LexisNexis Expert Commentary on the Volkswagen case explaining its consistency with Supreme Court precedents, and writing

The Fifth Circuit is not alone in permitting the use of mandamus in limited circumstances. For example, in Lemon v. Druffel, 253 F.2d 680 (6th Cir. 1958), a case decided shortly after Congress codified § 1404(a), the Sixth Circuit ruled that mandamus was an appropriate remedy to test a district court’s discretion on a motion to transfer.

In April 2008, she signed on to a brief taking precisely the opposite position, which does not cite Lemon. Curious.

Overlawyered has more on the Eastern District of Texas, and on Judge T. John Ward.

{ 3 comments }