The exhaust scandal of the Stuttgart Regional Court: a model case against Mercedes-Benz

The exhaust scandal of the Stuttgart Regional Court: a model case against Mercedes-Benz

From: 07/12/2022 5:31 pm

It is the second example of a publicizing action related to the diesel scandal. In the case of Mercedes-Benz, however, there are far fewer people affected than in the case of VW.

By Claudia Kornmeier, ARD legal department

The Federal Motor Transport Authority is sure: Not only VW, but also Mercedes-Benz did not comply with the rules when cleaning the exhaust gases. In 2018 and 2019, the group was forced to recall hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles due to illegal equipment.

The Federal Association of Consumer Centers is now relying on a class action declaratory judgment against the group over fundamental decisions by the Federal Motor Transport Authority. The trial before the Supreme Regional Court in Stuttgart begins today. It is not yet known when the verdict will come.

The case study includes car models from the GLC and GLK series in which the OM651 engine was installed and which were subject to a mandatory recall. According to the customer advisory center, around 50,000 Mercedes customers were able to join the lawsuit as of Monday. In fact, a good 2,800 users signed up to the complaint register. The extent to which they qualify – ie whether they actually bought one of the affected vehicles – remains to be seen.

Would you like to claim damages due to device failure?

The consumer center accuses Mercedes that the cleaning of the exhaust gas was carried out correctly only in tests in the laboratory to comply with the high emission standards. In normal operation on the road, however, the exhaust gas cleaning system was disabled and the limit values ​​were exceeded. This involves different shutdown devices, for example the control of the coolant temperature and the online design and the filling mode of the AdBlue dose level.

From the point of view of the consumer advisory center, the car manufacturer acted immorally and deliberately when installing these failure devices. Affected customers will therefore be entitled to compensation. Mercedes considers the claims made to be “baseless”. The group is also taking legal action against the decisions of the Federal Motor Transport Authority.

Court announcements

At the beginning of March, the Regional Supreme Court gave preliminary written indications of how it will assess the matter in the interim. According to this, it is assumed that a non-permissible failure device can be used in any case. An evidentiary hearing may be necessary for further decisions. So the court also thinks that there is no evidence that the car manufacturer’s board knew.

However, the knowledge of the head of engine development can lead to liability on the part of the car manufacturer – but probably only for cars in the Euro 6 production class. Regarding Euro 5 cars, the court recommends that the Federal Federation of Consumer Organizations remove the case.

Thermal windows are not an issue in the model lawsuits

Unlike many individual cases, the test case is not about the so-called thermal windows – the shutdown of cleaning the exhaust gas at a certain temperature. Because the Federal Court had already indicated that no claim for damages against Mercedes could be based on this. However, there are many private lawsuits against Mercedes before the courts, which are also based on the installation of heated windows.

Charges of the party to the consumer

For the declaratory action model, the contested questions should be defined primarily in the model process. Those affected can register in the complaint register at the Federal Office of Justice. There is no cost to those who participate. The consumer advice center bears the risk of legal costs. However, the sampling process is only the first step. If the case is successful, model plaintiffs can later claim damages from Mercedes in a second step.

Affected customers were able to join the case until yesterday. If you change your mind after the hearing on Tuesday, you have until the end of the day to withdraw. A counterclaim against Volkswagen was filed in early 2020 ending in comparisonwhich nearly 245,000 customers had accepted.

After four good hours of negotiations, where many procedures and combinations were discussed at first, the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Stuttgart proposed a date to proceed. Therefore, the trial should continue next year on January 24.