WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge in San Francisco on Monday named lawyer Elizabeth Cabraser to lead the case brought against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV <FCHA.MI> by owners over allegations it bypassed diesel emission controls.
Cabraser, a lawyer at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, also served as lead attorney for owners in the Volkswagen AG <VOWG_p.DE> diesel emissions case that led to the German automaker agreeing to offer to buyback 500,000 vehicles and spend billions compensating owners.
Judge Edward Chen said in an order Monday there is a consensus among lawyers that Cabraser “has been extremely effective in leading the VW team.” He also named nine lawyers to a steering committee to work with Cabraser, including many who were involved in the Volkswagen case.
Chen directed Cabraser and her team to file a consolidated complaint within 30 days and he plans an Aug. 8 status conference.
Fiat Chrysler’s lead lawyer is Robert Giuffra of law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, who also represented Volkswagen.
In May, the Justice Department sued Fiat Chrysler, accusing it of illegally using software that led to excess emissions in nearly 104,000 diesel vehicles sold since 2014.
Giuffra said on Wednesday the company is optimistic regulators will approve the company’s proposed software update as part of certifying 2017 diesel models to allow them to go on sale and then use that software to update the vehicles on the road.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board accused Fiat Chrysler in January of using undisclosed software to allow excess diesel emissions.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Grant McCool)