Hon. Charles R. Breyer, United States District Judge for the Northern District of California, issued an order today of notice of intent to appoint NAFUSA member Robert S. Mueller as settlement master in the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation.
In his Order, Judge Breyer wrote:
The Court has known Mr. Mueller professionally for more than 40 years, beginning with his service as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of California, and including his tenure as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California from 1998 through 2001. There are few, if any, people with more integrity, good judgment, and relevant experience than Mr. Mueller. Mr. Mueller will not adjudicate, or assist the Court with adjudicating, any issues in these consolidated proceedings; rather, his role will be to use his considerable experience and judgment to facilitate settlement discussions among the various parties in these complex matters. His government and private practice experience makes him uniquely qualified to work with and earn the trust of the parties, including the consumer and car dealer plaintiffs, the United States government, the Volkswagen defendants, and the interested state governments.
The Court has given the parties until January 15, 2016 to file any responses to the Court’s suggestion. Mueller, who served as the FBI director from 2001 to 2013, is a partner at WilmerHale. The firm represents VW’s auditor, and has been retained by VW for advice on U.S. tax implications of the emissions scandal. Mueller, however, has not been involved in any of the VW matters and the would be “walled off” from his work as special settlement master. Judge Breyer said he was unconcerned about any potential conflict.