VW creates US diesel emissions claims program

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CNBC Transcript: CNBC’s Phil LeBeau Speaks with Ken Feinberg on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” Today After Volkswagen Announcement.

Volkswagen of America is creating an independent claims program for the owners of nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles that emit up to 40 times legally allowable emissions.Volkswagen AG’s U.S. unit hired attorney Ken Feinberg to design and administer an independent resolution program over claims related to diesel vehicles rigged to cheat emissions tests.

The German carmaker said on Thursday it is naming compensation expert Ken Feinberg, who administered compensation funds for the September 11, 2001 attacks, BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and General Motors ignition switch crashes, to create and administer the program. Feinberg, who handled the General Motors Co. ignition-switch settlement fund, “will help to guide us as we move forward to make things right with our customers,’’ Michael Horn, chief executive officer of Volkswagen Group of America, said in an e-mailed statement Thursday.

VW has acknowledged that 482,000 2.0 litre 2009-2015 diesel cars and 85,000 3.0 litre SUVs and larger cars have higher-than-allowed emissions and faces more than 500 lawsuits and a US Justice Department investigation. Most recently, he has been working for General Motors, administering the victim compensation program tied to the company’s deadly ignition defect, which has now been linked to at least 124 deaths and at least 275 injuries. In exchange for accepting compensation offers from G.M.’s program, victims of these car accidents and their families forfeited their right to sue the company. KENNETH FEINBERG: OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS I’VE SAT DOWN WITH VOLKSWAGEN HERE IN NORTH AMERICA RIGHT OUTSIDE OF WASHINGTON, D.C., AND WE DISCUSSED THE DESIRE OF THE COMPANY TO SET UP SOME SORT OF CLAIMS PROGRAM, SIMILAR IN STRUCTURE TO THE 9/11 FUND, THE BP OIL SPILL FUND, THE GM IGNITION SWITCH FUND TO SEE IF IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO DEVELOP A PROGRAM THAT WOULD VOLUNTARILY ENCOURAGE INDIVIDUAL ELIGIBLE CAR OWNERS TO COME INTO THE PROGRAM INSTEAD OF LITIGATING. Volkswagen and Audi officials were scheduled to meet with U.S. environmental regulators on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, this week to discuss possible fixes for the vehicles, said a person familiar with the matter.

LEBEAU: AND, KEN, I’M CURIOUS, THE PARAMETERS HAVEN’T BEEN SET UP YET SO IT’S UNCLEAR IF THIS WOULD SIMPLY BE MORE THOSE 482000 DIESEL VW OWNERS IN THE U.S. Feinberg said he would begin work immediately designing an “independent claims process,” and that his team would need the input of not only Volkswagen but also vehicle owners, their lawyers and others affected by the case. Feinberg’s firm who will also work on the program, said it “will take a while to get it up and running.” She declined to provide a specific time frame for unveiling the program.

The consumer lawsuits were set off by the EPA’s Sept. 18 announcement that Volkswagen used deceptive software to make some vehicles with diesel engines appear as if they met emissions standards. YOU’RE RIGHT, WE’RE JUST BEGINNING TO SIT DOWN NOW AS WE DID A YEAR AND A HALF AGO WITH GENERAL MOTORS AND PLAN A PROTOCOL THAT WOULD ENCOMPASS ELIGIBLE VEHICLES, AND A DETERMINATION OF WHAT TYPE OF VEHICLES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR A MENU OF REMEDIES.

Within hours of the EPA announcement, lawyers began filing suits as class actions on behalf of all U.S. vehicle owners alleging violations of state consumer laws. I WAS JUST CURIOUS, THIS NICHE THAT YOU’VE CARVED OUT FOR YOURSELF OVER THE YEARS, YOU KNOW, YOU TRULY YOU HAVE DEVELOPED THIS BLUEPRINT FOR HOW YOU VALUE A LIFE OR WHATEVER IT IS YOU’RE DOING IN A PARTICULAR FUND. THIS IS AUTOMOBILE PROPERTY AND AUTOMOBILE – AN AUTOMOBILE FIX, OR A SOLUTION, RATHER THAN DEATH AND INJURY, WHICH IS FORTUNATE THAT WE DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THAT. GIVEN THE FACT THAT YOU ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THE LOSS OF LIFE AND CERTAINLY NOT MILLIONS OF VEHICLES, DO YOU EXPECT THIS TO BE A FUND THAT YOU COULD WRAP UP SO TO SPEAK RELATIVELY QUICKLY?

WE WOULD HOPE THAT IN CONTRAST TO THE CONVENTIONAL LITIGATION SYSTEM WHERE CLAIMS CAN DRAG ON IN COURT FOR YEARS, WE WOULD HOPE, AS WITH 9/11, BP AND GM, TO COME TO A FAIRLY EFFICIENT AND SWIFT PROCESSING OF THESE CLAIMS. CNBC at night features a mix of new reality programming, CNBC’s highly successful series produced exclusively for CNBC and a number of distinctive in-house documentaries. These include CNBC.com, the online destination for global business; CNBC PRO, the premium, integrated desktop/mobile service that provides real-time global market data and live access to CNBC global programming; and a suite of CNBC Mobile products including the CNBC Real-Time iPhone and iPad Apps.

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