German court rules against VW in Dieselgate case, opening door to others
Berlin, May 25 (efe-epa).- Germany’s top civil court on Monday ruled that Volkswagen must partially reimburse a customer whose vehicle had been fitted with software to manipulate emissions during testing.
The ruling on the individual case could pave the way for similar suits, with around 60,000 cases against the German motor giant still pending.
Germany’s Federal Court of Justice ruled that the plaintiff was entitled to a partial reimbursement for what they paid for the vehicle, a VW Sharan 2.0 TDl, taking into account its mileage and market depreciation.
The vehicle in question was bought second-hand in 2014. The plaintiff had sought a full reimbursement of the 31,500 euros they paid for it.
The court said the plaintiff had taken on a contractual obligation that was misleading and that Volkswagen’s actions had been “unethical.”
Volkswagen recently paid a settlement of around 830 million euros to some 235,000 German car owners to avoid a class action lawsuit.
The German car maker became embroiled in controversy in 2015 when the United States Environmental Protection Agency discovered it had been using software in its cars to manipulate emissions under test conditions, which would then deactivate when out on the road.
It affected 11 million vehicles manufactured between 2009-15.
The firm has since had to pay out billions of dollars in fines and compensation, and its top brass faced criminal charges for their involvement in the scandal, which came to be known as Dieselgate.
The Von Rueden law firm, which represents 12,000 Volkswagen customers allegedly affected by the emissions scandal in Germany, welcomed the ruling and said the company had spent time “trying to avoid these decisions by setting out of court.”
It added that it hoped the ruling would urge other car owners affected by the scandal to come forward.
The first court to hear the case back in 2018 rejected it but an appeals court ruled against the car maker and ordered it to pay 25,616 euros to the plaintiff. Both parties rejected the decision and it was sent to the top civil court.
German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert declined to comment on the ruling Monday but again underlined the importance of the automobile economy in Germany and the negative impact the emissions scandal has had on its credibility. EFE-EPA