Products Liability: Podhurst Orseck Team Drives $57M Settlement With Volkswagen

Posted on December 07, 2020
L-R Peter Prieto, Matthew Weinshall, Kristina Infante and Alissa Del Riego, Podhurst Orseck, Miami. Courtesy Photos
L-R Peter Prieto, Matthew Weinshall, Kristina Infante and Alissa Del Riego, Podhurst Orseck, Miami.  Courtesy Photos

The Miami attorneys negotiated a $57 million settlement with Volkswagen Group of America Inc. and its German parent to resolve a class-action lawsuit alleging four-door sedans built from 2009 to 2017 had defective suspension systems.

The lawsuit alleged Volkswagen knowingly sold defective CC models. A class of about 300,000 vehicle owners and lessees claimed the defect caused premature tire wear and replacement from poorly aligned wheels.

Volkswagen denied liability and moved to dismiss, contesting the validity and timeliness of the claims and company knowledge of the defect. U.S. District Judge Robert Scola Jr. in Miami dismissed fewer than half of the 29 claims.

Two years into the case after extensive discovery, Peter Prieto and his legal team reached a settlement in July 2019, and Scola approved the agreement in January.

Eligible consumers are entitled to certificates for up to two tire rotations until their cars reach 110,000 miles. The settlement also applies a formula to compensate for past rotations and tire replacements by comparing the normal tire life to how long tires lasted for class members.

The court awarded class counsel $7.7 million in attorney fees and expenses.

Prieto maintained the defect was both a safety issue and a financial burden because of the risk of blown tires and serious accidents.

Volkswagen denied wrongdoing.

Podhurst Orseck previously worked with two dozen law firms in multidistrict litigation over defective Takata air bags, and the legal work helped spur the largest auto recall in U.S. history. Prieto also is the only Florida attorney on the plaintiffs executive committee in an MDL over General Motors ignition switches.

The legal team’s work is recognized with a Most Effective Lawyers award for products liability litigation.

Describe a key element in the case.

Matthew Weinshall: The settlement was the result of hard-fought litigation and intense negotiations with Volkswagen. We are proud of the result achieved for the class, which offers substantial compensation to vehicle owners and lessees for the economic losses they suffered as a result of the alleged defect.
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