One-time verdict against VW reached in Augsburg
Author: Duran Sarikaya
VW must repay full purchase price to customer
A VW customer has reached a unique verdict at the Augsburg Regional Court in Germany: VW has to pay him back the entire purchase price without deduction. According to Wolfgang Vogel, the plaintiff had been a customer of the carmaker for more than four decades. Recently, he acquired a vehicle from VW in mid-2012, which was also affected by the fraud software for diesel. As a result, he filed a lawsuit against VW at the Augsburg Regional Court – and now has won.
This is the first time that the Group has been ordered to repay a car buyer the full purchase price. The plaintiff can return his vehicle to the carmaker and in return receives the purchase price of 29,907.66 euros plus interest.
According to Vogel’s lawyer Markus Klamert, the ruling is a novelty throughout Germany. Previously, the judgements always deducted a so-called compensation from the purchase price, even if the judgement was in favor of the buyers. The compensation for use is determined on the basis of the number of kilometers driven. This means that a higher four-digit sum can quickly be achieved, which is deducted from the buyer’s compensation.
Court blames VW for indecent act
According to Augsburg judge Rudolf Weigell, there was no reason for such a deduction at the expense of the customer. He justified his judgement with the fact that VW had behaved immorally, since software had been installed which resulted in the manipulation of exhaust gas limit values. Therefore, the group had the goal of deceiving its customers and thus achieving sales and profits. The newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine quoted this from the judgment.
In addition to Vogel, the Munich lawyer and his colleagues represent several thousand plaintiffs whose vehicles are affected by the diesel scandal. By the judgement in Augsburg the office could intersperse its opinion expressed in hundreds procedures for the first time: The one, who deceives and cheats, may draw no advantage from it. However, Volkswagen can appeal against the ruling, according to Christoph Kern, spokesman for the Regional Court. Then the case is referred to the Higher Regional Court.
Wave of lawsuits in Germany
In Germany, a wave of lawsuits arose as a result of the Diesel affair. Most of the lawsuits are against VW, but some also against Audi or Skoda. Many plaintiffs want their purchase contract to be cancelled. Also vehicles of the VW subsidiary brands were equipped with the fraud software. By the manipulation technology a better exhaust gas value was indicated in the test stand, than actually present.
In the Augsburg trial, VW was still of the opinion that they had not cheated on their customers, since there was no “restriction on usability”. The new software had eliminated the defect.
Courts decide differently
Judgments vary from court to court. Numerous actions have already been dismissed. However, in most cases the verdict will be in favor of the plaintiffs. This was shown in an overview of the automobile club ADAC. The association has summarized all known court decisions on the VW scandal: By September, 729 of the listed 1,101 court cases had been decided in favor of the customer.
Now the ADAC and the Bundesverband der Verbraucherzentralen have also filed a model lawsuit against VW. This was made possible by the change in the law at the beginning of November. Affected customers can thus register with the Federal Office of Justice.