Volkswagen has reached a settlement with more than 25,000 diesel plaintiffs. Unlike in the model procedure, the payments are individual. If you accept the money, you can keep your car.
The compensation payments by the VW Group to around 55,000 individual diesel plaintiffs were settled in almost half of all cases at the turn of the year. As the German press agency learned from the company, “a total of over 25,000” agreements have now been concluded in the separate proceedings outside of the large sample comparison. In these cases, the payout has already ended or is currently in progress.
About 30,000 lawsuits have not yet been finally resolved – however, there are already a good 15,000 comparison offers that are now available to customers.
Volkswagen had promised one-off payments to plaintiffs with its own processes, which are to be calculated individually. Those who accept the money can keep their car.
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Compensation for diesel single plaintiffs is calculated individually
The alternative is to wait for the judgment in your own proceedings, in which the judges are allowed to orientate themselves on the interpretation of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH). Then under certain circumstances the purchase price could flow minus a usage contribution. The customers then have to return the car.
In contrast to the model declaratory action brought under the direction of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv), there is no uniform table for individual plaintiffs, due to the variety of possible constellations, from which predefined sums for each car model and age result. It’s about individual regulations. It also depends on the duration of use and age.
In the test case there were up to 6,257 euros
In a sample comparison, lawyers from vzbv and VW had agreed after some back and forth for the participating customers between 1,350 and 6,257 euros, depending on the vehicle. Almost all of the legitimate claims – 245,000 cases – have now been settled, according to the company. More than 750 million euros have been paid out for it. In “a few cases” individual tests were still running.
The test case concerned the EA 189 “scandalous motor”. There are also lawsuits regarding the newer EA 288 drive, which according to VW does not have an inadmissible defeat device – the courts have ruled 99 percent in favor of the manufacturer, as around 1,200 judgments showed. Around 5,000 lawsuits are pending, no settlements are offered.
VW individual plaintiffs hope for higher compensation
With the “Dieselgate” engine EA 189, regardless of the vzbv’s model lawsuit, a number of other car owners who saw themselves cheated by Volkswagen because of falsified emissions values went to court themselves – often in expectation of higher compensation.
After thousands of proceedings before local, regional and higher regional courts, the first such case was heard by the BGH in May. The highest civil judges largely decided in favor of the plaintiff, but also set guard rails for similar cases. In July, further BGH rulings followed on fundamental issues such as the time of purchase or tort interest.
Some claims for damages have probably already expired
The question of the statute of limitations on claims for damages was particularly controversial until recently. In mid-December, the BGH indicated using an example case: Diesel customers who only sued VW in 2019 or 2020 are likely to go away empty-handed in most cases.
Because in autumn 2015, when the millionfold fraud with illegal exhaust technology was exposed, the topic was already well known to take it to court. Anyone who demonstrably knew at the time that their car was also affected would have had to file a complaint by the end of 2018 at the latest.
The statute of limitations is three years. According to the case law of the BGH, there is only an exception if the legal situation at the time initially appeared so uncertain and dubious that it was unreasonable to bring an action. The Karlsruhe judges did not see such a situation with the VW diesels.
Some plaintiffs allegedly manipulated purchase times
According to the company, around 9,000 proceedings were recently still open, in which a lawsuit was not brought until 2019 or 2020. However, Volkswagen does not assume that all of these lawsuits will be off the table with the December ruling. Lawyer Martina van Wijngaarden said: “In many cases, the question of whether there is knowledge or grossly negligent ignorance is disputed.” Further negotiations should take place in 2021.
According to VW, it was also noticed about two dozen times that plaintiffs apparently manipulated purchase times in order to fall under the rules of the pattern comparison: One goes “consistently against people who have tried, for example, by falsifying registration certificates to steal money”.
The company will report such fraudulent intentions to the responsible public prosecutor’s offices, stating that it is a matter of backdated or bogus sales contracts.
Check24 warned for misleading advertising
The business conduct of some legal service providers and intermediaries who also earn money from exhaust gas proceedings is now viewed critically. The competition headquarters warned the comparison portal Check24 because of misleading advertising: As a broker for motor vehicle insurance, the company gives vehicle owners the feeling that they can always successfully sue because of the diesel scandal.
There are advertising statements such as “up to 10,000 euros in damages”, “no cost risk” or “very good prospects of success”. It is not about denying the legitimate claims of injured parties – but practice shows that tens of thousands of lawsuits, some of which were written in the form of text modules, have been submitted to German courts.