VW owners wait for modifications to collect settlement
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Some Volkswagen owners are still waiting for the company to come up with an approved fix for their vehicles so they can collect from a massive class-action settlement.
As part of a nearly $15 billion settlement agreement, Volkswagen agreed to modify thousands of owners’ vehicles to bring them up to current emissions standards.
Federal prosecutors charged six Volkswagen executives for their role in an emissions cheating scandal, and the company pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of the clean air act.
Approximately 475,000 vehicles are considered eligible for a buyback settlement, a lease termination or a cash settlement following a free modification.
The Environmental Protection Agency approved an emissions fix for some 2015 model vehicles with the California Air Resources Board. But the company and the government have not indicated how long fixes for other vehicles may take for approval.
“I’m being told it could take as long as a year,” said Tricia Reynolds, a Fort Myers woman who owns a 2012 Jetta diesel.
Reynolds chose the cash payout option of the settlement since she doesn’t want to drive another car. She’s supposed to be paid out $6,300 after her vehicle is fixed, she said, because she is under a 12,000 mile per year threshold.
Now she’s worried the longer the company takes to find an approved fix, the more miles she will put on her car and decrease her potential settlement.
The company’s deadline for submitting an approved fix to the EPA and the resources board for vehicles with first-generation engines like Reynolds’ is Jan. 27, according Volkswagen’s website dedicated to the diesel scandal.
The company would not comment on whether or not it will meet that deadline. A spokesperson wrote via email that Volkswagen is working to submit the modifications as quickly as possible.
“Some people who have taken that third option are experiencing some problems, just because we do not know when the EPA is going to approve the fix,” said Sawyer Smith, a Fort Myers attorney whose firm represented plaintiffs in the class action suit.
Smith believes the case was resolved very quickly and to the benefit of the consumer.
“Unfortunately, those who took that third option are just going to have to tough it out and wait,” he said.