S&C Steers Volkswagen to a Landmark Settlement

October 27, 2016

Sullivan & Cromwell serves as national coordinating counsel for Volkswagen in multinational litigation and investigations stemming from “clean-diesel”-related developments. The Firm's pioneering counsel to Volkswagen demonstrates that corporate crisis resolution in today's world requires a generalist lawyer with the skill to consider legal and business implications, and the professional agility to pivot quickly and expertly from one area of law to another.
The S&C team, led by partners Bob Giuffra and Sharon Nelles, achieved a resolution with the Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and private plaintiffs represented by the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee (PSC). Volkswagen simultaneously resolved consumer protection claims with 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in separate negotiations. The settlement was granted final approval by Judge Charles R. Breyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on October 25. Heralded by both the Court and the public for its speed, scope and practicality, the settlement puts to bed a huge swath of Volkswagen's civil, regulatory, consumer and environmental exposure.
The settlement was not only unprecedented in size, but in nature. Unlike typical settlement negotiations, Volkswagen and its counsel undertook a “hub-and-spoke” negotiation, with S&C managing multiple negotiations with parties whose interests did not align. The S&C team brought them all together for a global resolution that allowed Volkswagen to return its focus to its future. The S&C team also includes partners Steve Holley, David Rein, Michael Steinberg, Diane McGimsey, Bill Monahan, Brent McIntosh and Laura Oswell.