Robert Giuffra, William Monahan and Thomas White Named Litigators of the Week for Win on Behalf of VW and Audi

November 20, 2020

The American Lawyer’s Litigation Daily named Robert Giuffra Jr., William Monahan and Thomas White its Litigators of the Week for extinguishing a class action brought on behalf of almost 150,000 consumers alleging damages against Volkswagen and Audi. This win is the latest in a long string of victories that S&C has delivered for the two automakers in litigation arising from their diesel emissions issues.

This most recent win came on November 12, when Judge Charles Breyer (N.D. Cal.) dismissed claims brought by former owners who both bought and sold their Volkswagen or Audi cars before the automakers’ use of emissions “defeat devices” became public.

The plaintiffs claimed that they overpaid for their cars, because they were promised an environmentally friendly car. S&C argued that plaintiffs failed to allege, and could not show, that they suffered any actual injury because, even if they had paid an inflated price, they recovered that overpayment when they sold their cars prior to the announcement of the defeat devices, when resale prices could not have been affected.

The Litigation Daily noted that the S&C team succeeded in bringing Daubert motions that excluded all three of the plaintiffs’ damages experts. Judge Breyer found that the plaintiffs’ experts’ “analyses were unreliable and thus inadmissible” and that plaintiffs failed to provide “any admissible evidence of an injury.” The win “could prove doubly useful as the automakers seek to fend off similar claims in other venues including Canada and Germany,” the publication noted.

In an interview with the Litigation Daily, Bob pointed out that Volkswagen, Audi and plaintiffs’ counsel did not include these consumers as part of prior class action settlements over diesel emissions because they suffered no damages. He also praised Judge Breyer for his “masterful job” handling the complex multidistrict litigation, adding that he seamlessly conducted the final two-hour hearing over Zoom.

Bill said this victory will likely help other companies facing similar issues. “The ruling should also benefit other product manufacturers, including other automakers, who face lawsuits from consumers who claim to have overpaid for a product even though they sold or traded it before there was any disclosure of an underlying issue with the product.”

Tom White stressed the collaborative effort of the entire S&C team, including crucial contributions by Michael Tomaino Jr., Michael Steinberg and William Wagener and a tireless associate team. “It was truly a team effort—which is the S&C way,” said Tom.