Volkswagen geared up for two new huge class action lawsuits
Cases separate to €9bn compensation claim by shareholders over car diesel manipulation
Matthias Mueller, chief executive of Volkswagen: over 15,000 German diesel owners are hoping for a €250m payout after joining class action lawsuit. Photograph: Thomas Kienzle/AFP/Getty Images
Volkswagen is facing two new massive class action lawsuits in its native Germany, opening a new round of legal woes in the fallout from the car giant’s diesel engine manipulation.
A US law firm will on Monday morning file a claim on behalf of some 15,374 VW group car owners, after claiming to have found a way around the ban on class action lawsuits in Germany.
Meanwhile, the Wolfsburg company is facing a separate multimillion claim from US pension funds, determined to claw back some of the value lost on their holdings following the VW share price collapse.
Those two new cases are separate to a compensation claim by VW shareholders, demanding some €9 billion in compensation by arguing the car maker’s board breached stock market guidelines by not reporting the looming risks over diesel manipulation.
The new pension fund claim has, according to the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, been filed by the US department of justice on behalf of the firms. Through a Frankfurt law firm it is demanding hundreds of millions of euro in compensation from the German company.
Meanwhile more than 15,000 German diesel owners are hoping for a €250 million payout after joining a class action lawsuit. To get around a ban on class action lawsuits in Germany, the VW car owners have reportedly transferred their legal claims to a German legal claims company. It has made €10 million available to finance the claim, according to the Bild tabloid, although the case is being run by the Berlin office of US law firm Hausfeld. On Monday morning the firm plans to file a 1,700-page lawsuit against VW in Braunschweig district court.
The condition for participation in the case: that the VW customers bought their cars outright, rather than through a financing package.
“I’m seriously annoyed because I bought my Skoda Superb under false pretences,” said Mr Johannes Igel, one German man involved in the case, to Bild.
While Hausfeld is confident of its chances before the German court, VW insists all cars are “technically safe and roadworthy”. The VW spokesman said the company would make clear to the court that there was “no reason for a case”.
At the end of August, Braunschweig district court dismissed another case against VW, saying drivers of cars with manipulated diesel software had no compensation claim against the German company.
As it fights legal actions Volkswagen and other car companies continue to lobby vigorously in Brussels against tough targets for electric car production and CO2 reduction. According to reports, they have succeeded in watering down European Commission rules for carbon dioxide emission targets, to be presented on Wednesday.