Lawsuits against VW to be consolidated

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A judicial panel has decided to consolidate hundreds of lawsuits against Volkswagen over its emissions cheating scandal in California, a focal point of the carmaker’s troubles.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation this week gave U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer in San Francisco oversight of more than 450 suits filed against the carmaker across the nation.

The panel met recently in New Orleans to hear from numerous lawyers who were seeking to get the suits consolidated in a particular federal district. Volkswagen and the federal government asked the panel to centralize the suits in Michigan.

Instead, the panel said it makes more sense to turn California into the center of the legal wrangling, in part because there are so many VW owners and dealers there.

VW has admitted that 482,000 2-liter diesel vehicles in the U.S. contained software that turned pollution controls on during government tests and off during real-world driving. The government says another 85,000 6-cylinder diesels also had cheating software.

In choosing California, the panel said the state is where the “most affected vehicles and dealers” are located.