Some four years after the emissions fraud was exposed, what is probably the biggest lawsuit against volkswagen goes to court. On 30. September 2019, the model declaratory action of the federation of german consumer organizations will be heard for the first time in braunschweig. More than 430.000 diesel drivers have joined – more could still join until the end of next week, said association executive klaus muller on tuesday (17. September 2019) in berlin.
Who goes how far?
The consumer associations are taking legal action on behalf of hundreds of thousands of diesel drivers and are also bearing the risk of legal costs. They are of the opinion that volkswagen has damaged car buyers intentionally and immorally with the manipulation of the exhaust gas purification of diesel engines and that the customers are therefore entitled to damages. The first trial date will probably be about the admissibility of the claims, the lawyers explained. They want to go all the way to the federal supreme court if necessary, but also see the possibility of an early settlement with volkswagen. The company describes this as "hardly conceivable" because of the many different case constellations.
The proceedings in braunschweig, however, are initially only about whether volkswagen has acted unlawfully. The diesel drivers who joined the lawsuit then had to assert their individual claims in their own proceedings, with the model judgment in their pockets.
The consumer advice centers called on them to check once again whether they actually met all the requirements for the consumer complaint – and, if necessary, to deregister before the trial began. The model complaint only covers the brands audi, seat, skoda and VW and only vehicles with type EA 189 diesel engines that were produced after 1 january 2009. November 2008 and were affected by the recall. The lawyers warned that anyone who had entered the wrong name in the register of claims and waited for the trial would risk losing his case.
The consumer advice centers also advise diesel drivers with legal protection insurance to try individual lawsuits instead. There is no competition there, muller emphasized. "The model declaratory action of the federation of german consumer organisations is an offer to those injured parties who do not have legal protection insurance, who want to avoid the risks associated with individual lawsuits and who prefer to save the considerable success commissions of litigation financiers."