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Dieselgate: German consumer group and automobile
club announce joint lawsuit against Volkswagen

BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) and the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) announced on Wednesday that they will file a joint lawsuit against Volkswagen demanding compensation for vehicle owners affected by the "dieselgate" scandal.

The two organizations told press in Berlin that they would file a so-called "template lawsuit" at the Braunschweig Higher Regional Court by Nov. 1. Vzbv and ADAC are hereby making use of a new type of German class-action lawsuit, created recently by the federal government in response to diesel emissions-cheating practices, which enables plaintiffs to press charges collectively and resolve key legal questions, to set a precedent.
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A first such template lawsuit trial opened at the Braunschweig Higher Regional Court this week which centers on allegations by investors that Volkswagen failed to inform them about the installation of illicit defeat devices to understate nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel vehicles in an adequate and timely fashion.

In total, the group of, mainly institutional, investors pressing charges against Volkswagen together is demanding the repayment of 9 billion euros in compensation from the carmaker for losses suffered from declines in its share price.

Vzbv and ADAC explained on Wednesday that their lawsuit was specifically concerned with vehicles of the Volkswagen group brands VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat with the diesel motor type EA 189.

The plaintiffs hope to establish before the court that the Wolfsburg-based carmaker damaged customers intentionally and unethically by selling cars that had been tampered with.

 

Volkswagen emissions scandal - also called 'emissionsgate' or 'dieselgate' | Coastweek

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The initiation of further legal action against Volkswagen in Germany was revealed on the same day as the DAX-listed automotive giant announced a significant fall in sales for its flagship brand VW in September.

The weak monthly performance was attributed by Juergen Stackmann, head of sales, to operational difficulties stemming from a transition to the new Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLPT).

As of Sept. 1, the WLTP regulatory regime for exhaust systems testing has become legally-binding in the European Union (EU).

Technological changes required to fulfill the standards have been associated with delays in production at several German carmakers and even led the Volkswagen Group to issue a profit warning to investors earlier.

In spite of current legal and logistical difficulties, Stackmann expressed confidence that Volkswagen sales would rise again strongly in November and December.

The automotive group delivered a total of 513,300 vehicles in August to customers globally, marking a 3.7 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
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EARLIER REPORT:

German court criticizes ex-VW CEO behaviour in 'dieselgate' class action trial

BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- The Braunschweig Higher Regional Court has criticized the response of former Volkswagen chief executive officer (CEO) Martin Winterkorn to the "dieselgate" scandal during a closely-watched class action trial on Tuesday.

Christian Jaede, the presiding judge, questioned why Winterkorn had not told Volkswagen shareholders about potential issues surrounding the installation of illicit software to understate nitrogen oxide (NOx) from diesel vehicles after he was informed internally in July 2015.

The trial which opened on Monday centers on allegations by investors that Volkswagen failed to inform about its involvement in emissions-cheating practices in adequate and timely fashion.

The so-called "template lawsuit", in which several plaintiffs unite to press charges collectively and resolve key questions to set a legal precedent, was only recently enabled by new legislation passed by the federal government in Berlin in response to the "dieselgate" scandal.

In total, the group of mainly institutional investors who participate in the German "template lawsuit" is now demanding the repayment of 9 billion euros (10.4 billion U.S. dollars) in compensation from the carmaker.

A key question of interest to the Braunschweig judges as well as German public is from which point onwards Volkswagen managers at the DAX-listed firm became aware of illicit emissions-cheating practices and would have hence been legally obliged to issue a warning to shareholders.

Volkswagen has argued that there was no substantive evidence to justify such a step prior to the publication of accusations by U.S. environmental regulators in September 2015, whereas the plaintiffs claim that senior staff had detailed knowledge about the illegal practices as early as June 2008.

The Braunschweig State Prosecution Office currently lists 49 suspects in its investigations into emissions-cheating at German carmakers.

A small number of senior Volkswagen executives, including ex-CEO Winterkorn, his successor Diess and board chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch are hereby believed to have potentially committed "market manipulation" offenses under German laws that govern the conduct of publicly-listed companies.

Speaking on Tuesday, judge Jaede suggested that a technically-versed Winterkorn should have known about the defeat devices from 2008 onwards.

In the same year, Volkswagen organized a "diesel strategy" summit in the United States shortly after the German Environmental Aid (DUH) group first flagged ongoing manipulations of test-setting emission readings from the automotive producer’s diesel exhaust systems.
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SEE ALSO:

German automakers VW will stand in a new type of 'Dieselgate' trial

Dieselgate: Compliance auditor demands further governance reform

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FURTHER READING:

First major case against Volkswagen in Germany on cheating over diesel emissions

Dieselgate: Compliance auditor now demand further governance reforms from Volkswagen

Motor madness: Volkswagen emissions scandal - also called 'emissionsgate' or 'dieselgate'

             

 

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