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Federal judge approves Volkswagen settlement in emissions scandal

[JURIST] A US district judge on Tuesday approved a $14.7 billion settlement [order, PDF] between Volkswagen AG (VW) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the state of California [official websites] and car owners who filed a class action lawsuit over the company's emissions scandal. Judge Charles Breyer of the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] denied car owners' claims that the settlement was inadequate. Under the agreement, VW will buy back the polluting cars at their pre-scandal trade-in value, as well as pay car owners additional compensation. Just over $10 billion of the settlement will go towards these efforts, while the other $4.7 will be spent on programs to promote clean vehicles and offsetting emissions. While this was the largest settlement with an automaker accused of misconduct, VW still faces criminal investigation and other civil lawsuits.

Breyer initially gave preliminary approval [JURIST report] to the settlement in July, but VW is facing legal difficulty around the world regarding this emissions scandal [JURIST op-ed]. Last month a German court said that VW faces over $8.2 billion in damage claims [JURIST report] from investors over its emissions scandal. Also in September a VW engineer pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in federal court to one count of conspiracy to defraud the US, commit wire fraud and violate the Clean Air Act [text, PDF] by implementing software in the manufacturer's vehicles that could cheat US emissions tests. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [official website] in September sued VW and its local subsidiary [JURIST report] for misleading customers.

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