2016 Volkswagen Beetle TDI Convertible
Volkswagen AG settled a lawsuit with more than 300 owners days before a potentially embarrassing trial in the U.S., Reuters reported last week.
According to the report, Volkswagen reached a settlement Friday with David Doar, a North Carolina man, and similar owners after a judge rejected a request by the automaker to delay the trial. Lawyers for Volkswagen argued that publicity from a Netflix documentary about the emissions scandal and reports that the automaker subjected monkeys to diesel fumes in 2014 would taint a jury.
Court documents revealed that an Albuquerque-based laboratory funded by VW exposed monkeys to diesel fumes in a bid to generate data that diesel fumes were less harmful than gasoline emissions. The fumes were generated by a diesel-powered VW Beetle with an illegal "defeat device" that would reduce emissions in laboratory testing but pollute far more on the road, according to reports.
The Virginia judge rejected those arguments and ruled that a fair jury could be seated despite the publicity, according to the Reuters report. Doar's attorney, Mike Melkersen, was interviewed for the Netflix documentary.
A spokeswoman for Volkswagen of America declined to comment on the settlement Monday. Terms of the settlement weren't made public.
Doar was among roughly 2,000 VW diesel owners who refused a settlement with the automaker in 2016 and have pursued separate lawsuits against Volkswagen. About 500,000 owners agreed to buybacks and additional compensation with Volkswagen as part of a $14.7 billion settlement for small cars in 2016. A separate, $1.2 billion settlement was reached with SUV owners last year.
In 2015, Volkswagen admitted that it had sold cars and SUVs in the U.S. that illegally polluted up to 40 times more than allowed by law. Later that year, the automaker admitted that it had lied about carbon dioxide emissions in millions of cars worldwide.
The scandal forced the ouster of several top executives, including its chairman, and has cost the automaker more than $30 billion so far.