Since 2008, Volkswagen programmed vehicles sold in the U.S. to falsify government emissions tests, enabling diesel VWs to spew forty times more pollutants than the law allowed. I don’t even have to include the lawyerly qualifier, “allegedly,” because, after years of denials, misdirection and efforts to undermine investigations, Volkswagen has fallen on its sword and admitted its intentional misconduct. It’s a breathtaking revelation in every sense of the word, and it’s going to drive a lot of American litigation…and e-discovery.
I thought we might get a jump on the discovery issues in terms of both the usual and unique challenges that Volkswagen and its suppliers, dealers and counsel face, as well as the discovery duties of the estimated 482,000 owners of affected vehicles in the U.S., many of whom are sure to file individual actions or join class-actions seeking damages or rescission. Let’s not forget the regulatory and Congressional investigations that will ensue, and actions by shareholders and dealers. Before it’s over, billions of dollars will change hands, some of it in court; and because this concerns software subroutines, electronic evidence is key. Continue reading