SAN FRANCISCO (CBSMiami/AP) — A federal judge will decide whether to grant preliminary approval for a $15 billion settlement over Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer appeared inclined to support it. He has kept close watch over the negotiations and previously praised the efforts of attorneys and a court-appointed settlement master who helped broker the deal.
Preliminary approval would allow attorneys to notify vehicle owners of the terms, which include a buyback option. Breyer is expected to decide in October whether to grant final approval or tell the sides to keep negotiating.
The German carmaker agreed last month to spend up to $10 billion buying back or repairing about 475,000 Volkswagens and Audi diesel cars with 2-liter engines and paying owners $5,100 to $10,000 each. Details about the vehicle repairs have not been finalized.
The owners could use a settlement website to determine how much compensation they would get. They could object and opt out, allowing them to pursue legal action against Volkswagen on their own.
The settlement also includes $2.7 billion for unspecified environmental mitigation and an additional $2 billion to promote zero-emissions vehicles. It does not cover about 85,000 more powerful Volkswagens and Audis with 3-liter engines also caught up in the emissions scandal.
Volkswagen has acknowledged that the cars were programmed to turn on emissions controls during government lab tests and turn them off while on the road. Investigators found that the cars emitted more than 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide, which can cause respiratory problems.
The company still faces billions more dollars in fines and penalties and possible criminal charges.
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