Hagens Berman's automotive litigation team has been named a Practice Group of the Year by Law360 in 2018 and 2016, highlighting its "eye toward landmark matters and general excellence," in this area of law.
Hagens Berman’s Steve Berman was appointed co-lead counsel in the massive MDL alleging that Toyota vehicles contained a defect causing sudden, unintended acceleration and secured the largest automotive litigation settlement in history, at that time – a $1.6 billion settlement – one that Judge Selna called, “extraordinary because every single dollar in the cash fund will go to claimants.”
This victory spurred the firm to continue to achieve tremendous victories for classes of consumers, going above the mark to ensure that settlements are not only fair and adequate in making plaintiffs whole, but that they are used in the most efficient and advantageous ways to effect change in the auto industry.
Hagens Berman has also taken a stand against General Motors, with Steve Berman serving as co-lead counsel on behalf of consumers who suffered series of recalls following the instalment of faulty ignition switches, which led to more than 100 fatalities and countless injuries across the country.
The firm has filed suit against BMW for concealing a defect in its i3 REx model electric cars that causes them to suddenly and without warning lose speed and power mid-drive, putting drivers and passengers at risk of crash and injury. This sudden loss of power leaves drivers unable to maintain a safe speed and is especially dangerous on highways, or when driving uphill. The firm is seeking to hold BMW accountable for this safety hazard that it was aware of but failed to correct.
In 2012, Hagens Berman began litigation against automakers Hyundai and Kia for overstating the fuel efficiency for many of the vehicles sold to U.S. consumers. In August of 2014, Hagens Berman attorneys secured a $255 million settlement for owners of affected vehicles.
The firm also recently unearthed suits affecting two makes and models of high-end, track-ready hotrod cars. After investigating vehicle owner complaints, Hagens Berman filed separate lawsuits against GM and Ford for the Shelby GT350 Mustang and the Corvette Z06. Both models were sold to consumers as high-speed trackable cars that were meant to be driven at high speeds, for long periods of time. Unbeknownst to purchasers, the Corvette Z06 and the Shelby GT350 contain defects that cause them to overheat and enter a performance-limiting Limp Mode to protect the engine from damage. Owners report Limp Mode engaging even when the cars are not being tracked.
The impact of these cases, however, goes even beyond the amounts awarded to consumers. Hagens Berman strives to impact the industry’s practices as well. Whenever possible the firm seeks to craft settlements that entail long-lasting benefits to the public as a whole and also serve as punishment to help deter future fraud in the auto industry. Our notable automotive settlements include a $30 million to fund automotive safety research and driver education.
The firm was also named to a leadership position in the class-action lawsuit brought against Volkswagen on behalf of tens of thousands of owners and lessors of Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche diesel vehicles containing VW’s illegal “defeat device,” which culminated in the largest ever settlement against an automaker – $14.7 billion. Hagens Berman is proud to have been the first firm to file a lawsuit against VW regarding the Dieselgate scandal. The firm also solidified a monumental $1.2 billion settlement on behalf of owners of Volkswagen dealerships who had been blindsided by the automaker's fraud and concealed emissions-cheating.
Fast on the heels of this litigation, the firm began spearheading research into the diesel industry, finding that Volkswagen was not the only perpetrator of diesel emissions-cheating. Hagens Berman is uniquely dedicated to this cause, and is the only firm that has purchased an emission testing machine to determine if other diesel car manufacturers install similar cheating devices, bringing new cases based on the firm’s own research, time and testing. Hagens Berman’s team has bolstered the firm’s unmatched dedication to upholding the rights of consumers and the environment, becoming a one-man EPA. The firm has single-handedly uncovered new defeat devices, and has filed similar suits against Mercedes (U.S. case), BMW, Ford, and multiple cases against GM and Fiat Chrysler.
In 2020, Hagens Berman obtained a $700 million settlement with Mercedes on behalf of U.S. Mercedes owners of affected diesel vehicles following the firm’s independent investigation. The consumer settlement came in addition to a $1.5 billion joint settlement reached between the U.S. Department of Justice, EPA and California Air Resources Board. Mercedes was forced to conduct a nationwide recall, repair Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles, pay more than $945 million in penalties, perform projects to mitigate pollution and revamp its procedures.