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Volkswagen hit with German lawsuit over emissions scandal

Approximately 470,000 owners are represented in the class-action-like lawsuit in Germany.

Volkswagen badge on steering wheel
German owners will have their day in court.
Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Another day, another cog in the machine that continues to spin news about the Volkswagen Group's diesel emissions scandal. This time, owners in Germany have banded together to take the automaker to court.

The lawsuit, called a declaratory model action, is similar to what we know as a class-action lawsuit in the US. It gives consumers the power to band together to bring a legal challenge to life. In this case, around 470,000 VW Group owners are part of the lawsuit, according to a Monday report from The Guardian. Owners seek compensation after learning their vehicles were part of the global emissions cheating scandal. Owners of models from Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda sold after Nov. 1, 2008, are included.

Volkswagen didn't immediately return a request for comment on the litigation, though the report notes the Braunschweig state court allowed the action to proceed. The judge overseeing the case added the plaintiffs had a long road ahead to try and reach some sort of settlement, however.

VW Group has spent well over $30 billion so far to pay for vehicle buybacks and settlements in numerous legal challenges, and any sort of settlement as part of this German legal challenge would only add to the total. If the court decided to fine VW, each owner would need to make an individual claim and compensation wouldn't be uniform. The trial could last up to four years, however.

News of the legal challenge comes shortly after German authorities brought fresh charges against two current VW executives. VW CEO Herbert Diess and VW Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch were charged with stock-market manipulation and linked to the diesel scandal. Allegedly, the two worked to delay telling investors about emissions cheating in the US. Both plan to remain in their positions.

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