Per the syllabus, please read the case, “Dieselgate – Heavy Fumes Exhausting the
Volkswagen Group”. It is one of the most popular HBS cases about the largest automotive scandal in
history. Here are some assigned questions just to guide you in thinking about the case and writing
about one page about it. These are just suggestions as there is not enough space to write about
everything. These are the topics that we cover during class discussions on campus.
1. Imagine that you are an automotive expert and an environmental lawyer. Summarize the difference
between European and US vehicle emission standards (Pp. 1-2) and compare diesel versus gasoline
vehicles in Europe and the US market (P. 3).
2. You are now an automotive historian and strategist. So many talents! Summarize the history of the
Volkswagen Group (Pp. 3-4), its brands (P. 7), and its strategy for making VW the highest-selling
automaker in the world (Pp. 4-5) including its clean diesel technology (P. 5).
3. Now you are a federal fraud investigator. Discuss the Dieselgate scandal (P. 8). How was fraud
detected? How did the “defeat devices” in diesel cars work? What brands and how many cars had the
defeat devices? How did VW, its CEO Winterkorn, and his replacement Mueller respond? (Pp. 8-11).
What was the effect of Dieselgate on the environment and people?
The heart of the case:
4. Now you are a civil trial lawyer, a litigator, a trial lawyer, a gladiator! (Someone introduced himself to
my parents as a “gladiator,” only to explain that he was a trial lawyer.) Research the suits against VW in
the US. These include a Justice Department suit against VW to enforce the Clean Air Act; complaints by
states; and consumer class action lawsuits. (Ignore stockholder suits.) What was the outcome? Also
research civil claims and suits against VW by the EU, EU countries, and other countries outside the
United States (e.g., in the Pacific).
5. You have an MBA in finance and a JD and you bring suits on behalf of stockholders, sometimes called
derivative suits. What stockholder suits have been brought? How much has VW paid in damages due to
Dieselgate so far in the US and elsewhere? What has been the effect on VW stock and stockholders
6. You are also a criminal lawyer, in both the US and the EU. What criminal investigations, charges, or
trials have there been against VW with what outcomes? Can Junior engineers be held liable?
The “Dieselgate” case is going to keep lawyers busy worldwide for years. There is a saying about who
makes a good law client: someone who is guilty, rich, and scared.

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