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KARLSRUHE (dpa-AFX) – The controversial question of whether diesel buyers could still sue Volkswagen (Volkswagen (VW) vz) in the emissions scandal in 2019 or 2020 is about to be clarified by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH). The highest civil judge in Karlsruhe is negotiating a case on Monday which, according to VW (Volkswagen (VW) vz), will be an example for around 9,000 cases still open. The verdict will probably not be announced on the same day, but possibly before Christmas. (Az. VI ZR 739/20)
The plaintiff had bought his new VW Touran in April 2013 for just under 28,000 euros. The car has the problematic EA189 engine, so it was undoubtedly equipped with illegal exhaust technology. According to a basic ruling by the BGH in May, such plaintiffs are entitled to compensation because they were deceived in an immoral manner.
The problem: the man only filed a lawsuit in 2019. The diesel scandal was exposed in autumn 2015. The statute of limitations stipulated in the Civil Code is three years – beginning “with the end of the year in which 1. the claim arose and 2. the creditor became aware of the circumstances giving rise to the claim and the person of the debtor or would have to gain knowledge without gross negligence “. VW assumes that all claims will expire at the end of 2018.
The Stuttgart regional court had nevertheless awarded the plaintiff damages. But the higher regional court (OLG) Stuttgart conceded this judgment. According to the case law of the Federal Court of Justice, an exception to the statute of limitations is only possible if the legal situation is so uncertain and dubious that it would be unreasonable to bring an action.
The OLG saw no evidence of this. In 2015 there were still no higher court or supreme court decisions on diesel. Nevertheless, it was reasonable to complain because: “Waiting alone does not mean that the legal situation can be clarified.”
Following an initial ad hoc announcement on September 22, 2015, Volkswagen reported in several press releases about the inadmissible defeat device in millions of diesel vehicles. The scandal was one of the big topics in the media for many weeks. According to the OLG, it is not only undisputed that the plaintiff noticed something. He also knew that his car was affected.
According to Volkswagen, most of the higher regional courts have so far adopted a statute of limitations at the end of 2018. But there are also isolated chambers that do not see a statute of limitations even at the end of 2019. The decisive decision is now made by the BGH./sem/DP/zb