German Court Rules VW Must Pay Dieselgate Owner Compensation

A court in Germany has dealt a dieselgate blow to Volkswagen, ruling that the automaker must pay compensation to owners of vehicles affected by the diesel emissions scandal nearly five years after news of the emissions defeat devices broke.

Around 60,000 lawsuits were pending with German courts, Automotive News Europe reports, and this ruling by the Bundesgerichtshof, the German federal court, is expected to be the template for how the rest of those suits proceed.

VW admitted to cheating emissions tests with many of its diesel-powered models back in 2015, and has since paid more than $33 billion in regulatory fines, buybacks, and fixes to vehicles, but much of that was in the US. In Europe, the cars stayed on the road, and VW argued that as such there was no merit to the compensation claims. Instead, owners got a fix for their vehicles, and authorities issued fines for the scandal.

“The verdict by the BGH draws a final line. It creates clarity on the BGH’s views on the underlying questions in the diesel proceedings for most of the 60,000 cases still pending,” Volkswagen said. The company also said, ANE reports, that it would work with motorists on a compensation agreement.

A previous court ruling in the city of Koblenz had ruled a VW Sharan van owner was entitled to reimbursement for the vehicle minus miles driven, a 25,600 euro award for a 31,500 euro purchase made in 2014. In federal court, VW wanted the ruling overturned while the plaintiff wanted the mileage deduction removed.

“We have in principle confirmed the verdict from the Koblenz upper regional court,” said BGH presiding federal judge Stephan Seiters.

ANE reports VW has paid out 750 million euros to 200,000 claimants in Germany already as part of a class-action suit, and that it has more than 100,000 claims for damages outstanding outside of Germany as a result of dieselgate affected vehicles.