Volkswagen emissions scandal: BGH boosts diesel buyers' rights

Volkswagen Abjascandel
BGH Promotes Diesel Buyers Rights

Diesel buyers who only sued Volkswagen in 2019 or later now have clarification on questions about the statute of limitations in the diesel scandal. In a case from Saxony-Anhalt, the Federal Court of Justice ruled that the plaintiff was still entitled to compensation after the deadline.

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has strengthened the diesel plaintiffs’ appearance with an additional ruling in the emissions scandal: Volkswagen diesel drivers can, if necessary, file damage claims until spring 2020, because with temporary accession to the model explanatory procedure against Volkswagen AG, the statute of limitations has been suspended , as was the case with BGH. This applies even if the accession to the exemplary explanatory procedure was made solely for the purpose of suspending the statute of limitations.

The plaintiff had bought a used Volkswagen Tiguan in September 2013. An EA 189 diesel engine was installed there, which was controlled by software with an impermissible cutting device. The full emission control system was activated only on the test bench, not during normal driving.

In order to obtain compensation for exhaust gas tampering, the Tiguan driver initially joined the model clarification proceeding against Volkswagen AG in 2018. He signed there and filed his own lawsuit in 2019.

Illustrative business model prohibits statute of limitations

Volkswagen said the statute of limitations has expired. Since VW exhaust gas handling became public in the fall of 2015, the normal three-calendar-year statute of limitations typically expires at the end of 2018. The plaintiff contradicted this with reference to the exemplary explanatory procedure. Volkswagen customers registered there can decide until the end of April 2020 whether to accept the Volkswagen comparison offer there. The plaintiff argued that the statute of limitations had been suspended until then or until dismissal from the proceedings.

BGH has agreed with the VW diesel driver: the statute of limitations has been suspended by joining the demonstration procedure for the model. This does not contradict the fact that the plaintiff apparently joined only in order to achieve the statute of limitations. The fact that this accession only happened in 2019 is not an obstacle either. Because the suspension of the statute of limitations legally takes effect at the time the model explanatory action was lifted, in this case on November 1, 2018.

BGH also stressed that lower courts should not automatically prescribe a statute of limitations at the end of 2018. The deciding factor is when a Volkswagen customer discovered exhaust gas processing. Because of the extensive media coverage, this was already evident in the fall of 2015, but the courts have to state this explicitly in each individual case. According to these provisions, the higher regional court of Numburg in Saxony-Anhalt must decide the dispute again.

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