Volkswagen turns down judge’s call to settle German class action on emissions

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Volkswagen this week rejected a German judge’s call to settle a customer class action lawsuit that concerns its rigging of diesel emissions tests, stating there was no case to answer.

VW admitted utilizing illegal software to cheat U.S. diesel engine tests in 2015, a scandal which has cost it over $30 billion in vehicle refits, fines and provisions.

“The vehicles are driven by hundreds of thousands of consumers every day, which is why we believe there is no damage and therefore no cause for complaint,” the German automaker stated.

It was replying to a call by the judge of the Higher Regional Court of Brunswick, which is close to the automaker’s headquarters, on the first day of hearings in the case.

About 470,000 car owners have registered to take part in the lawsuit and the Brunswick court booked the local town hall to allow large numbers of observers.

Upon the revelation of the diesel scandal, 2.4 million cars with defeat devices were on German roads. In the meanwhile, 99 percent have got a software update.

The scandal still casts a shadow over the automaker, with prosecutors last week alleging its Chief Executive Herbert Diess of holding back market-moving data on the rigged tests.

The VW board has supported Diess, who is leading the automaker’s efforts to reinvent itself as a champion of cleaner driving.

The German class action was made possible following the cabinet approval of a draft law last year permitting consumer protection organizations to litigate on behalf of consumers, avoiding the high legal expenses that might put people off legal action.

Negotiations were likely to be difficult but the court would want to support and not impede them, judge Michael Neef stated.

VW has stated that there was no legal basis for customers in Germany to seek compensation because of differences in law.

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