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Americans Are Getting $15.3 Billion from Volkswagen, Europeans Not So Much

Americans are often accused of being too quick to sue, most often by fellow Americans but sometimes by other nations, too. And it is true that United States citizens tend to enjoy more rights as civil plaintiffs than those in most other countries, although the exact details tend to change from one state to another. But while you could certainly make the case that some people take advantage of our system for their own personal gain, that same system also lets citizens get compensation from major corporations.

America’s Settlement

After the story first broke nearly a year ago that Volkswagen was using special software to cheat on emissions tests, the question hasn’t been whether the company would have to compensate the vehicle owners, but rather how much this payment would be. While the EPA considered how much to fine VW for its emissions violations, class-action lawsuits sprang up across the country as individual owners came together to demand compensation for the fraud and for the sudden drop in value of their vehicles.

Now, as of the tail end of June, Volkswagen has agreed to a roughly $15 billion settlement related to the smaller of the two diesel engines that powered VW Group vehicles in the United States. Most of that, over $10 billion, will go directly to the car owners as cash payments of between $5,100 and $10,000, depending on the car’s original price. The amount also includes two additional options: either VW will buy back the car at its September 2015 price, or they’ll fix the emissions problem for free (although this will probably drop the fuel efficiency and performance).

Of the rest of the settlement, half will be going to an EPA fund meant to compensate for the environmental damage, and half will be a mandatory investment into zero-emissions vehicles which may actually benefit Volkswagen in the long run. The company still isn’t out of the woods yet, though: this settlement doesn’t cover the class action suits brought in regards to the company’s larger diesel engine, and the Department of Justice still hasn’t finished with its criminal investigation of the company.

Europe’s Settlement

Something else America is often accused of is being too corporate-friendly, but throughout most of the EU corporations aren’t subject to direct class-action lawsuits. Instead, EU citizens have to either go through individual lawsuits or rely on their governments to act on their behalf. But while there’s nothing inherently wrong with a different approach, the results have also been quite different.

The number of diesel engines in European personal vehicles easily dwarfs the number in the United States: 8.5 million versus 500,000. However, instead of coming to a settlement that equally dwarfs the American agreement, most EU nations have agreed to a quick, inexpensive fix that the EPA rejected months ago on our behalf for being inadequate.

This inequality between America and Europe is so stark that it’s inspiring legal teams throughout the Eurozone to come together and start what could be the single largest consumer action suit in Europe. Lawyers are using a kind of loophole that allows consumers to sign over their claims to a third party, a party that can then seek compensation on everyone’s behalf. And depending on how many European Volkswagen diesel owners decide to join the suit, the final settlement could truly end up towering over any other car manufacturer’s settlement in history.

If you live in the state of Florida and own a VW diesel car, you should consider contacting the law offices of , Goldman, Babboni, and Walsh. We can help you out by answering any legal questions you may have about your rights as an injured party and what you need to do to obtain your fair share of the settlement.

Michael J. Babboni's wide-ranging legal career is based on the strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and have access to effective legal help. Michael began putting his beliefs in action by helping the people of St. Petersburg Florida get what they are owed in civil trials fighting to protect families by making corporations pay, and honor their obligations.

Americans Are Getting $15.3 Billion from Volkswagen, Europeans Not So Much

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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