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German court deals 'Dieselgate' blow to VW customer

February 19, 2019

A regional appeals court has rejected a claim by a VW owner backed by legal services group MyRight. But the verdict means it could now be the first "Dieselgate" compensation case to go to Germany's supreme court.

Volkswagen exhaust pipes
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Stratenschulte

A court in the northern German city of Braunschweig on Tuesday rejected a compensation claim against carmaker Volkswagen brought by a plaintiff represented by legal services group MyRight.

The verdict paves the way for MyRight to now appeal the decision at the Federal Court of Justice.

VW welcomed the verdict, saying that it meant that buyers of diesel vehicles had no claims against the company.

The plaintiff was calling on VW to pay back wholly or in part the sum for which he purchased a diesel vehicle nine years ago. His first attempt to claim compensation at a lower court in Braunschweig also failed.

Read more: Dieselgate — will class-action lawsuits come to Germans' rescue?

'Outstanding success'

MyRight founder Jan-Eike Andresen was, however, not fazed by the court's decision, saying his company was now in the "finals" with VW, which he called an "outstanding success for our young firm."

The case in Braunschweig has been followed with great interest because the consumer rights group MyRight is representing some 35,000 owners of VW diesel vehicles in Germany affected by the "Dieselgate" scandal. 

Read moreNitrogen oxide: Is it really that dangerous, lung doctors ask? 

More to come?

VW is facing thousands of compensation claims after it was discovered that the carmaker was using programming software to manipulate emissions outputs so they conformed with legal standards. The company has already spent more than €27 billion ($30.7 billion) in fines, damages, investors' compensations and technical upgrades, it said in December.

The company says that most of the lawsuits brought against it have been decided in favor of it or of VW retailers. Of 50,000 cases in Germany, VW says, some 14,000 have already been decided.

MyRight, which is backed by the US global law firm Hausfeld, says on its website that its class actions over the diesel scandal surrounding the German carmaker are seeking more than €800 million in compensation for losses incurred by owners of VW diesel vehicles. The group says it wanted the present case in Braunschweig to clarify all the legal issues regarding compensation associated with the emissions scandal.

Class-action lawsuits, a common practice in the United States, have been relatively rare in Europe and Germany up to now. But legislation that came into force in Germany in November now allows class actions, albeit with strict limitations, including the stipulation that such a complaint can be filed only by specially authorized consumer protection associations.

Read more: Why veering Germans away from cars is tough 

German car dealers have a diesel crisis

tj/rt (dpa, AFP)

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