Volkswagen has hired attorney Kenneth Feinberg to handle compensation claims from owners of diesel-powered VW vehicles that are part of its massive emissions cheating scheme, the German automaker announced Thursday.
The announcement to appoint Mr. Feinberg comes as his work as head of the General Motors Ignition Compensation Claims Resolution Facility draws to an end. In that role, Mr. Feinberg oversaw the processing of thousands personal injury and wrongful death claims submitted by victims and families who claimed to have been harmed by GM’s defective ignition switches.
Volkswagen officials said that Mr. Feinberg will design and administer its victims compensation fund, which will process claims submitted by owners of VW, Audi, and Porsche vehicles with 2- or 3-liter diesel engines.
Mr. Feinberg also administered compensation funds for victims of BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and the 9-11 Compensation fund, earning him the colloquial title “Pay Czar.”
“His extensive experience in handling such complex matters will help to guide us as we move forward to make things right with our customers,” said Michael Horn, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America in a statement.
Volkswagen has admitted to writing code into the software of nearly half a million diesel vehicles it sold in the U.S. that turned on pollution controls when it detected the vehicle to be in emissions inspection and shut them off in normal daily use.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated the vehicles could belch out up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide than allowed by federal law.
The automaker has not said how it will fix the problem, but the installation of proper emissions controls will almost certainly translate to slower, heavier vehicle performance.
Mr. Feinberg said that his work on the VW compensation fund starts immediately.
“We hope to have a claims program designed as expeditiously as possible,” he said in a statement, adding that the process would involve seeking input from VW engineers and other officials, owners of the affected vehicles, attorneys, and other authorities.