In re Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation

Jury in bellwether “clean diesel” opt-out trial accepts Volkswagen’s expert’s damages analysis showing limited economic damages.

Retained by Sullivan & Cromwell

A federal jury in a bellwether trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California agreed with the economic analysis put forward by Volkswagen Group of America’s expert, finding small to no economic damages for ten plaintiffs who owned or leased “clean diesel” Volkswagen or Audi vehicles containing defeat devices.

Defense counsel for Volkswagen retained Cornerstone Research to support economics Professor Timothy Bresnahan of Stanford University in a case brought by a set of plaintiffs who had opted-out of a class action settlement between Volkswagen and owners and lessees of certain Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles. These opt-out plaintiffs claimed significant economic damages from Volkswagen’s failure to disclose the defeat devices installed in these vehicles at the time of acquisition.

The jury accepted all of Professor Bresnahan’s economic damages numbers, including no economic damages for five of the plaintiffs.

Professor Bresnahan served as the sole witness for Volkswagen in the compensatory damages phase of the bellwether trial, testifying for three days before the jury. He used several methods for measuring the economic damages incurred by each plaintiff, including a regression analysis that compared how much the prices of the at-issue vehicles declined relative to benchmark vehicles. He opined that his analyses indicated no damages for some plaintiffs and only small damages for the other plaintiffs.

The jury accepted all of Professor Bresnahan’s economic damages numbers, including no economic damages for five of the plaintiffs.