Practice Highlight: Crisis Management


S&C’s crisis management and trial team guides auto giants through diesel issues

Corporate crises demand the most sophisticated response. A company or individual caught in an unfolding crisis needs expert guidance to avoid missteps that could end a business or a career. Our multi-disciplinary lawyers are uniquely positioned for this challenge. With their broad and varied experience, they can help clients under stress process and prioritize complicated legal, business, legislative and public relations issues to resolve these problems as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
When Volkswagen faced an existential crisis over “clean-diesel” developments, the auto giant turned to us. We served as national coordinating counsel in multinational litigation and investigations, leading the client to a swift $14.7 billion resolution with the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, a host of other federal and state authorities, as well as car dealers and owners. Since then, we’ve helped VW extinguish billions of dollars of additional environmental claims asserted by states. 

When vehicle owners who opted out of the settlement took Volkswagen to trial, we defeated tens of millions of dollars of claims they sought, creating valuable precedent for other automakers. 
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles faced different diesel issues, so we devised a new strategy. Following two years of litigation, FCA reached interrelated settlements with government regulators and vehicle owners with no admission or finding of wrongdoing by the company.
In these two situations and every crisis management challenge, we are fully engaged with the client, providing advice that addresses and manages all issues, including:

  • identifying key strategic and tactical issues,
  • managing important public relations and disclosure dimensions,
  • anticipating and assessing litigation risks and regulatory and legislative developments,
  • assisting with management changes, and
  • when necessary, fielding strong trial teams with proven track records.
 In Volkswagen’s case, this multi-dimensional strategy enabled the company to focus on its future.

Read more about our crisis management practice here.