By on September 24, 2015


Only hours after Friday’s announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency notified Volkswagen that its cars were illegally polluting, David Fiol, a personal injury attorney in San Francisco, had filed a class-action lawsuit through a Seattle law firm in federal court.

He wasn’t alone either. Reuters reported that at least 25 class-action lawsuits were filed within hours of the EPA’s announcement as lawyers line up to take the lead on what could be one of the largest lawsuits against an automaker in history. Being the lead firm could be lucrative for the lead attorneys: A $2.65 billion 2006 judgement against AOL Time Warner on behalf of shareholders netted the lead firm’s owners $70 million in fees.

And according to the report, law firms don’t have to look far for clients. Many attorneys are VW TDI owners — a clear downside for having an highly educated customer base.

“These cars appealed to a certain segment,” Alabama lawyer Tony Mastando told Reuters. “We have conscientious friends who bought the cars with the belief they were doing something good.”

Many law firms are advertising online for clients in an effort to boost their base to bid for the top spot. According to one law firm looking for clients online:

“Many recalls of automobiles have occurred in recent years but none appears to be garnering the scorn of consumers like that of the recent Volkswagen/Audi diesel engine debacle. Apparently, the German automaker has been cheating on U.S. emissions tests for years through a clever software program designed to dupe the system … But where does that leave the some half million consumers who own or lease these cars? Likely the courts will have to solve this matter.”

According to the report, many lawyers say they won’t have to go that far. Steve Berman, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Fiol, said his Seattle firm has fielded more than 2,000 calls from VW and Audi owners since Friday.

“We have never seen anything like this,” Berman told Reuters.

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