Bloomberg Law covered one of S&C’s latest wins for Volkswagen that highlights the Firm’s long-running successful litigation strategy in cases involving diesel emissions. In “Benchslap Pricey Lesson for Lawyers in Volkswagen Opt-Out Case,” the publication reported on a recent court ruling slashing fees requested by ten vehicle owners who opted out of class settlements and took their cases to trial in San Francisco. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of the Northern District of California called the plaintiffs’ results at the 2020 bellwether trial “abysmal” and their fee request “grossly inflated and unreasonable.”
“Plaintiffs’ lawyers make decisions all the time about when to pass up a settlement offer and take a case to trial. It’s not very often the decision goes more poorly than it did for [this] group of plaintiffs,” Bloomberg wrote.
S&C Co-Chair Robert Giuffra Jr., who led Volkswagen’s trial team, told Bloomberg: “The plaintiffs’ lawyers here thought that their clients could hit the jackpot with a San Francisco jury by opting out of Volkswagen’s generous settlement. Their strategy backfired when the jury refused to award unjustified windfall damages.” The S&C team also included Sharon Nelles, Bill Monahan, Sverker Hogberg, Andrew Kaufman, Jordan Gary, Brian Gottlieb, Zachary Huffman and Alexandra Rogers.
During the trial, the plaintiffs claimed they were entitled to more than $580 million in economic and punitive damages due to the presence of defeat devices that caused excess emissions. The jury awarded the ten plaintiffs collectively just $51,659. The plaintiffs had to pay Volkswagen more than $110,000 in costs because most of them recovered less at trial than Volkswagen’s pretrial offers.
Judge Breyer agreed with S&C that plaintiffs achieved “negligible results” that were “near zero percent of what they . . . wanted.”
Since 2016, Bob has served as National Coordinating Counsel to Volkswagen in multidistrict litigation and regulatory investigations of alleged excess emissions for 600,000 diesel vehicles. The Firm has secured favorable and precedent-setting outcomes in class action litigation, opt-out litigation, litigation brought by state attorneys general, and litigation with the companies’ primary regulators, including the EPA and the Department of Justice.
Read: “Benchslap Pricey Lesson for Lawyers in Volkswagen Opt-Out Case”
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