German VW car owners seek fraud compensation in landmark collective lawsuit
Financial Times / Deutsche Welle
The first hearing of a landmark collective lawsuit in Germany over emission test cheating against carmaker Volkswagen, involving more than 400,000 car owners, has taken place in the northern German city of Braunschweig. According to the Financial Times, the outcome is impossible to predict because it is the first time Germany’s new Musterfeststellungsklage, or “declaratory model action” (DMA), is carried out. It bears some similarities to US class actions, where lawsuits are filed for an individual acting on behalf of a group, and was introduced in the wake of the Dieselgate emissions scandal. The lawsuit does not result in decisions on individual claims. If successful, plaintiffs will then have to take their damage claims to court by themselves, writes Deutsche Welle.
The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) together with the ADAC automobile association filed the collective lawsuit in November 2018 and more than 400,000 car owners have registered to participate. Dieselgate started out as a scandal exclusively affecting Volkswagen, Germany’s largest car company. Since breaking in September 2015, however, it has morphed into a global issue involving many industry heavyweights. In Germany, the automobile's birthplace, the emission manipulation's ripple effects continue to be felt - not only at the country's famed carmakers, but also in ongoing discussions about transport policies, air pollution and diesel driving bans.