Volkswagen hires star US lawyer to handle diesel cases

German automaker Volkswagen, the target of US lawsuits over its pollution-cheating devices on diesel engines, has hired lawyer Kenneth Feinberg.
German automaker Volkswagen, the target of US lawsuits over its pollution-cheating devices on diesel engines, has hired lawyer Kenneth Feinberg. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK (AFP) - German automaker Volkswagen, the target of US lawsuits over its pollution-cheating devices on diesel engines, said Thursday (Dec 17) it has hired lawyer Kenneth Feinberg to handle the complaints.

Mr Feinberg, known for handling large consumer compensation cases such as the deadly ignition switches used in some General Motors cars, was hired to design and administer an independent claims resolution programme to address claims related to the diesel-engine vehicles equipped with emissions standards-spoofing software.

The German auto giant has admitted using the cheating devices in at least 11 million vehicles worldwide. The scandal first emerged in the United States in September, where a number of class-action suits against VW have been filed.

"We are pleased to announce the retention of Kenneth Feinberg. His extensive experience in handling such complex matters will help to guide us as we move forward to make things right with our customers," said Michael Horn, president and chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America, in the statement.

Mr Feinberg said in the statement he would begin work "immediately" designing an independent claims process.

Mr Feinberg is renowned as the go-to lawyer for high-profile legal cases. He managed the compensation claims fund for GM, which is nearing completion of its work. The fund said last week that 124 deaths related to the faulty ignition switches had been deemed eligible for compensation.

Mr Feinberg also managed similar funds for the victims of the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks and the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.