VW German lawsuit could open floodgates to EU compensation in emissions scandal

January 05, 2017

Volkswagen (VW) faces a fresh lawsuit in Germany claiming the company must buy back diesel cars at the full purchase price due to the emissions scandal, potentially benefitting thousands of drivers. 

The suit is the first in a project being litigated by German lawyers of US law firm Hausfeld, and is designed to work around Germany’s lack of American-style class action lawsuits. This could make VW vulnerable to widespread European consumer compensation, which it has currently refused to pay after misleading consumers about the emissions of its cars. 

If the lawsuit is successful, it could open the floodgates to thousands of European claimants, furious that while US owners have received $5-10,000 compensation per car (€4,800-9,600), European consumers have got nothing. 

‘VW has defrauded car owners for years,’ said Jan-Eike Andresen, founder of legal-tech portal myRight. The company has more than 100,000 VW owners on its website and has mandated Hausfeld to pursue the claims. 

He added: ‘VW delivered nothing on what they promised to do to mend the issue.’ 

Rather than seeking compensation for a fall in residual values of affected cars, which Autovista Intelligence considers unwise since they have held rather firm, the lawsuit aims to force Volkswagen Group to buy back the vehicles at the original price. Hausfeld represents VW owners and shareholders in both the US and Europe. 

The proceedings project began with the filing by one car owner on Tuesday and the project aims to act as a model by resolving issues in common with other cases. Unlike a US class action lawsuit, however, it does not have the legal effect of resolving all the other claims. 

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