- The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband – vzbv) brings a model declaratory action against Daimler AG before the Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart (Oberlandesgericht Stuttgart - OLG Stuttgart) on the grounds of illegal defeat devices.
- The court will examine the eligibility for compensation claims for losses incurred due to the Mercedes GLC and GLK vehicle models with the engine type OM 651.
- vzbv accuses Daimler AG of deliberate manipulation of exhaust gas cleaning systems.
Today, vzbv brought a model declaratory action against Daimler AG before the OLG Stuttgart. By doing so, vzbv aims to make it easier for affected parties to claim damages. The procedure was initiated on the grounds of numerous recalls by the Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt - KBA) of Mercedes GLC and GLK models with the engine type OM651, which were fitted with illegal defeat devices. By installing such devices, manufacturers can ensure that vehicles comply with the legal emissions thresholds during the type approval process. However, once the vehicles are on the road, they exceed these thresholds by a significant margin.
“vzbv assumes that the model declaratory action against Daimler AG will result in consumers being able to claim damages. Parties who believe they have suffered damage will obtain certainty about whether Daimler AG intentionally fitted several models of vehicle with illegal defeat devices,” says Klaus Müller, vzbv’s Executive Director. “Despite recalls by the authorities, Daimler AG still denies having intentionally manipulated the emission cleaning systems of its vehicles. We are now seeking a ruling from the OLG Stuttgart which confirms Daimler’s intentions. Finally, there will be legal certainty for the many affected consumers.”
Model declaratory action to cover up to 50,000 recalled vehicles
In Germany, approximately 254,000 Daimler vehicles have been recalled by the authorities. In its model declaratory action, vzbv will focus on the engine type OM651. This would affect around 50,000 Mercedes GLC and GLK models in Germany. If these cars have not received a software update as ordered by the authorities, they may have to be taken off the road. Many consumers were already notified of the recalls for those vehicles in 2018, which means that the related claims will expire under the statute of limitations at the end of 2021. By joining the procedure, they have the opportunity to prevent their claims from becoming time-barred.
Together against Daimler
So far, the rulings of various courts have not been consistent. Only individual actions have been brought against the manufacturer. Their success depends heavily on how the affected parties present their case in court. Daimler has at all times denied having acted intentionally or contrary to public policy – and this approach has often been successful in court, depending on the circumstances of the case. Therefore, in the model declaratory action, vzbv seeks a ruling from the court about which defeat devices were installed in which vehicles. “We want Daimler AG to take responsibility for having manipulated exhaust gas cleaning systems, and we want affected consumers to get compensated more quickly,” says Dr Ralf Stoll and Ralph Sauer, representing the law firm Dr. Stoll & Sauer Litigation Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH.
Possibility to join the model declaratory action as of opening of claims register
The claims register will be opened at the Federal Office of Justice (Bundesamt für Justiz - BfJ) a few weeks after the lawsuit has been filed. Only then will it be possible to register so that consumers can join the model declaratory action.