Europeans Looking for Dieselgate Damages Face Uphill Battle in Court

While Volkswagen Group’s diesel lawsuits are more or less settled in the United States, 470,000 diesel owners in Germany are still fighting to see their payday. Unfortunately, the courts aren’t certain they’re deserving.

The court hasn’t settled on anything, but Monday’s introductory hearing concluded with presiding Judge Michael Neef wondering what customers actually lost by having their vehicles equipped with emissions-cheating software. The court claims its primary goal is to assess whether or not any loss in value can be attributed to vehicle bans that came years after VW’s diesel scandal broke. It is concerned that drivers’ ability to continue using the automobiles doesn’t warrant awarding owners damages.

“It doesn’t make sense to us that drivers should be granted the right to use cars for free,” Neef said on behalf of the three judges hearing the case, according to Bloomberg. “Otherwise, we would have to grant punitive damages that do not exist under German law.” 

From Bloomberg:

Monday’s infoments are preliminary and may still change, Neef said. The court will review the issues and discuss them further at a Nov. 18 hearing in Braunschweig, a venue close to VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters.

The judges are pondering whether to join other German tribunals that have granted the lawsuits because owners faced the risk that their cars could be banned from roads by transport authorities and suffered losses in resale values. Any ruling in the mass case is likely to influence similar suits and claims worldwide.

Nearly all U.S. owners with affected VW diesels took part in 2016’s $25 billion settlement. The fine was supposed to address damages of customers, regulators, individual states and dealers; buyback offers and additional infopensation were extended to roughly 500,000 owners in the United States. While lawsuits have also cropped in Europe, Volkswagen has said it wants to deal with each issue separately.

In Germany, roughly 2.4 million Volkswagen models were made suspect by the emissions fiasco. However, the vast majority have since received software updates. And, while some of these fixes have fallen under criticism for delivering vehicles with lessened performance, others came back thirstier for fuel with a little more get-up-and-go. Regardless, 99 percent of the affected vehicles underwent the necessary repairs and can be legally driven within the country — which may be enough.

Volkswagen claims this is the reason it’s not going to bother settling in Germany and believes regional laws are on its side. “The vehicles are driven by hundreds of thousands of customers every day, which is why we believe there is no damage and therefore no cause for infoplaint,” the automaker explained.

shared from TTAC