VW resists move for trial instead of EPA settlement

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 20, 2016 6:14 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> is resisting a demand from U.S. plaintiffs to go to trial rather than settle its diesel emissions case with government regulators, according to a court filing, as it braces for a crucial court hearing on Thursday.

A U.S. federal judge last month gave Volkswagen (VW) and regulators until April 21 to agree on a fix for nearly 600,000 diesel cars on U.S. roads implicated by VW's emissions test-rigging scandal.

VW does "not believe any expedited hearing or bench trial is appropriate or required", according to the joint proposed agenda for the hearing on Thursday at the San Francisco district court about its progress toward reaching a deal with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The plaintiffs - a committee representing thousands of consumers who say they were tricked into buying polluting diesel vehicles - proposed an expedited hearing or bench trial, or an expedited "all issues" trial including punitive damages.

The case will go to trial if an out-of-court settlement is not reached between Volkswagen and the EPA.

The possibility of VW concluding months of talks with the EPA drove the carmaker's shares to the top of the benchmark DAX index on Wednesday. VW shares were up 6.1 percent at 120.30 as of 1102 GMT (6:02 a.m. ET).

VW did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

An agreement with U.S. authorities, also on financial penalties, would enable VW to finally provision for potential liabilities in its 2015 results, which are due to be approved by the automaker's supervisory board on Friday.

"It would be a major positive trigger for the stock if VW quantified the total potential cost of the diesel affair," said Arndt Ellinghorst of market research firm Evercore ISI, who recommends buying the shares.

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)