Judge calls Volkswagen court walkout ‘bizarre stunt’

Discovery application in case over emissions devices ‘still alive’, says District Court judge

An estimated 11 million cars worldwide are affected by Volkswagen’s emissions “cheat” devices. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

An estimated 11 million cars worldwide are affected by Volkswagen’s emissions “cheat” devices. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

 

A District Court judge has dubbed the behaviour of Volkswagen’s legal team who walked out of a Castlebar court on Tuesday as “a bizarre stunt”.

Judge Mary Devins told the court on Wednesday that the VW legal team’s decision to absent themselves from the proceedings was “the most unusual thing” she had seen in her court.

She said they were the representatives of Volkswagen Ireland and Volkswagen AG and that an application for discovery of documents that may clarify the claimant’s cause for action was “still alive and extant”.

“I am quite satisfied that the order for discovery was not complied with and, in accordance with the District Court rules, I am moving for better and further particulars,” the judge said.

The case is being taken by a Co Roscommon nurse against the company for installing so-called cheat devices designed to mislead emissions tests. An estimated 11 million cars worldwide are affected.

The judge said that because of the respondents’ attitude, and decision to claim the court did not have jurisdiction, she was not sure if the car giant’s legal representatives should be notified.

Expert witnesses

She asked Evan O’Dwyer, solicitor for the claimant, to consider whether Stephen McDonnell, a Volkswagen emissions expert witness for the claimant who had failed to turn up in court yesterday, should be notified.

Mr O’Dwyer said that usually there was a culture of “collegiality” between solicitors in the west regarding the sharing of documents.

He observed that yesterday’s expert witnesses were very informative and, in light of this, it would seem that Mr McDonnell’s affidavit was inadequate as it depended “on hearsay and third-party information provided to him”.

Expert witness Michael P Lehmann, an attorney with US law firm Hausfeld, had said yesterday that some of McDonnell’s submission was based on press releases by Volkswagen and that he now needed the prima facie evidence behind these statements, Mr O’Dwyer said.

“It would be my application that this information has been adduced to other tribuna,” he said, referring to hearings about the matter in Europe and the US.

The matter will be brought before the court again on September 16th.

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