Today was supposed to mark the beginning of the first trial over Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal. But on Friday, the German automaker struck a settlement with the plaintiff before the proceedings got underway, reports Reuters.
The settlement follows a failed attempt by Volkswagen to delay the trial because of comments made by the plaintiff’s attorney in a Netflix series that seemed to draw a parallel between VW-funded monkey experiments and the Holocaust.
On Friday, Virginia state court Judge Bruce White approved the case’s dismissal because a settlement had been reached with the plaintiff, North Carolina resident David Doar, along with more than 300 other VW diesel owners.
White declined to disclose the terms of the deal, and VW wouldn’t comment when reached by Reuters. Here’s more from the story:
The first U.S. trial could have resulted in testimony by current and former VW executives and additional negative publicity stemming from the emissions scandal. Doar had sued VW over fraud and unfair trade practice claims and sought punitive damages as well as compensation for the vehicle.
Doar bought a 2014 diesel Jetta for $23,700 and had rejected a settlement offer from a 2016 class-action agreement that would have reimbursed him for the value of the vehicle. He had sought $725,000 plus attorneys fees in legal filings.
Volkswagen’s argued that Doar’s attorney, Mike Melkersen, created “pretrial publiclity” that connected VW “directly with Hitler and the Holocaust. As such, VW said, it could be difficult to seat an impartial jury.
White disagreed, Reuters reports, saying: “The jurors don’t know much about these cases.”
The state court in Virginia has a busy docket lined up of more VW cases that could go to trial, so there’s still an outside chance that one could happen this year. Reuters reports the next trial is scheduled for June 4.