In March, six Volkswagen retailers came together with the mission of negotiating an out-of-court settlement with the factory to compensate their fellow dealers for losses from the diesel emissions scandal, and averting what they feared would be messy litigation against their business partner.
But when such a deal finally came together last week, it was disclosed by someone else: Steve Berman, a class-action attorney representing a VW dealer who had defied the six-member committee and sued VW in April.
It's still unclear what roles the VW dealer committee and Berman's firm played in the run-up to the dealer agreement. For now, both parties appear pleased that a deal -- any deal -- is at hand.
In a hearing, Berman said the deal would "heal the wounds between the dealers and Volkswagen."
Berman, who was unavailable for comment last week, represents Ed Napleton, an Illinois-based dealer who sued VW in April seeking class-action status, alleging that the automaker had defrauded its retailers by cheating on emissions tests. The case was later transferred to a federal court in San Francisco, where U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer is overseeing the complex web of consumer and government litigation against VW.