Thousands of Swiss take VW to court in emissions scandal

The lawsuit paperwork amounts to more than 100,000 pages © KEYSTONE / ENNIO LEANZA

Some 6,000 people in Switzerland have banded together to sue German car manufacturer Volkswagen and a Swiss car dealer for damages related to the exhaust scandal. 

This content was published on December 29, 2017 minutes and agencies/sm

The Consumer Protection Organisation (SKS)External link announced on Friday that it had filed a claim on behalf of about 6,000 car owners at the Zurich Commercial Court. The owners say they suffered financial losses because the vehicles’ exhaust systems had been manipulated. 

+ Swiss prosecutors started with 600 VW complaints in 2015

SKS says the claim is justified because the cars touted as environmentally friendly were overpriced to begin with, and their resale value plummeted when potential buyers learned of the exhaust scandal. SKS estimates that the average damages would amount to 15% of the value of the cars when they were new – which would mean about CHF3,000-CHF7,000 ($3,072-$7,168) per person if they win. 

The defendants are the Volkswagen Group and the general importer AMAG. According to SKS, neither the VW Group nor AMAG was willing to negotiate with SKS regarding reimbursement of financial losses. 

+ Why VW drivers in French-speaking Switzerland joined a French class action suit 

This lawsuit involves clients in German-speaking Switzerland and is supported by Swiss insurance companies that told their clients to join the SKS suit in order to ensure that the legal expenses would be covered. 

“The fact that all the major Swiss insurance companies covering legal expenses are involved in helping the victims is an important sign for the corporate world. Anybody who deceives customers in Switzerland can expect serious opposition,” SKS director Sara Stalder said in a statementExternal link

In Switzerland, around 180,000 customers were affected by the exhaust gas scandal, which erupted in 2015. Worldwide, VW equipped about 11 million of its cars with software allowing it to cheat on emissions tests. Most of the affected cars in Switzerland have been converted in the meantime.

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