The Supreme Court declares Volkswagen Spain responsible for the ‘dieselgate’

The complainant is not satisfied

Updated on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 – 11:40

The high court revokes decisions of other instances and opens the door to new legal actions, but establishes a compensation of only 500 euros compared to the more than 30,000 that the plaintiff requested.

‘Pyrrhic’ victory over the Volkswagen Group of the buyer of an Audi in the Supreme.

The Supreme Court has agreed that Volkswagen Audi Spain, a subsidiary of the German automobile group, compensate with 500 euros for moral damages to a person affected by the manipulation of the diesel engines of the EA 189 family, the diselgate case, on understanding that the distributor assumes the responsibility of its parent company in Spain.

In a sentence known this Tuesday, The plenary session of the Civil Chamber of the High Court insists that the distributor was indirectly owned 100% by Volkswagen, and also had sent a letter to his clients in which he acknowledged the incident and offered to solve it through his official services.

The scandal dates back to September 2015, when it was discovered in the United States that the Volkswagen Group installed software in the diesel engines of the EA 189 family that altered the pollutant emissions of the vehicle downwards when it detected that it was being subjected to an inspection on the rollers of a laboratory.

In the case analyzed by the high court, In 2008, the buyer purchased a model powered by a diesel engine type EA 189 from an official Audi vehicle dealer., manufactured by Volkswagen, for 37,920 euros.

Years later the one known as Dieselgate came to light, implicating the German group in the handling the measurement of pollutant gas emissions through installed software.

Lawsuits filed

Once the parent publicly admitted the fraud and took responsibility, Volkswagen Audi Spain sent a letter to the buyer informing him that the engine of his vehicle needed to update the “software”, and apologized on behalf of the manufacturer for the inconvenience.

In 2016, the user filed a lawsuit against the concessionaire and the distribution company, which he considered “direct and main responsible for the fraud committed and the consequences derived from it.”

Specifically, it requested the nullity of the sales contract or, alternatively, the termination for its breach, and claimed 11,376 euros for moral damages suffered, and 6,644.71 euros for interest and expenses of satisfied financing.

In a subsidiary way, peda 15,020 euros as compensation for damages caused by depreciation suffered in the value of the vehicle.

The claim was dismissed both by the Court of First Instance and Instruction number 3 of Legans (Madrid) and by the Provincial Court of Madrid, which considered Volkswagen Audi Spain as “mere importer or distributor”.

Now The Supreme Court revokes those verdicts and defends that the subsidiary of the automobile group assumed in Spain the position of contractual responsibility that the manufacturer has.

Manufacturer and distributor

The magistrates uphold their decision that the share capital was 100% owned by the German manufacturer, as well as in the letter he sent to the buyers of the affected vehicles in Spain.

The terms of this communication expressed his assumption of responsibility as a manufacturer, and generated such confidence in the recipients, points out the Supreme Court, who recalls that, “Often the importer and the distributor belong to the same corporate group as the manufacturer, or are integrated into a commercial network “with him.

The room understands that the plaintiff suffered moral damage from the public scandal, the result of uncertainty and unrest to the consequences that you may have had to face, such as a possible tax penalty, the stoppage of your vehicle or the restriction to certain urban areas.

A circumstance to take into account given the importance to a car buyer of ensuring that he is not deprived, even temporarily, of its use or restricted to certain areas.

“Ridiculous compensation”

The Supreme Court describes the distributor’s breach of contract as “intentional”, for which it must be liable for all derived damages and losses, including moral ones.

However, since it was not proven that the dealer even knew about the installation of the device, does not attribute to this intentionality, nor does it impose any responsibility for moral damages.

Likewise, the magistrates they believe the amount claimed is manifestly disproportionate, so it condemns the distribution company to pay 500 euros plus interest from the sentence.

In a statement, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, Norberto Jos Martnez-Blanco, is dissatisfied with the sentence considering that the compensation is “completely ridiculous”, although it emphasizes that it opens the door for all those affected by the manipulation of the company’s emissions to claim.

In addition, it advances that your firm “go further in this procedure and present a complement“to defend the rights of its client and of all consumers.

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