Feinberg Appointed Czar For VW Emissions Claims
Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Dec 21, 2015 in Advice
Volkswagen recently announced it was hiring Kenneth Feinberg to handle claims from its diesel emissions scandal. Feinberg is a well-known attorney who has overseen victim compensation after 9/11, the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill and the recent General Motors (GM) ignition switch recall.
The announcement was made last Thursday, Dec. 17. The company expects about half a million claims from owners of Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi vehicles with 2-liter and 3-liter diesel engines.
VW admitted to rigging the engines to cheat emissions tests. The cars were widely marketed as “clean diesel,” until the scandal broke when a group of researchers discovered a discrepancy between the emissions reported by the device and their own direct measurements.
The company has still not worked out how it is going to repair the vehicles and make them compliant with emissions standards. Many consumers are demanding a full refund, stating they bought the vehicles on false premises based on VW’s advertising.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Feinberg is being tasked with designing and administering the program to resolve customer claims in a process called alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
Feinberg became prominent after handling the compensation program for victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He later was hired to oversee a compensation fund for BP after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and more recently, the GM faulty ignition switch recall.
What is behind Volkswagen’s decision to use alternative dispute resolution and the hiring of such a high profile lawyer as Feinberg? Proponents claim that ADR is less costly, quicker and more preferable than litigation for all parties. In reality, this is about Volkswagen shielding themselves from accountability.
Although non-binding mediation can be useful, another form of ADR called binding arbitration is typically setup as a “take-it-or-leave-it” offer that is stacked against plaintiffs.
In the case of VW, the automaker lied to customers and the regulatory agencies. Using ADR and hiring Feinberg is akin to setting up their own private court and hiring their own judge and jury to decide who gets compensated and for how much. How is this an impartial system?
If you have been a victim of a defective or dangerous product, contact the product liability attorneys at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak today. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.