The Supreme Court has partially upheld an appeal against the distributor Volkswagen Audi in Spain, a subsidiary of the automobile group, for assuming the position of manufacturer in the fraudulent device to control the emission of gases in diesel engines EA189, a scandal also known as dieselgate, as has become known this Tuesday.
The plenary session of the First Chamber of the Supreme Court has described the distributor’s breach of contract as intentional and willful. For this reason, it has ordered the distribution company to pay 500 euros and interest to a buyer harmed by the installation of a fraudulent device that manipulates the control of the emission of polluting gases.
The high court maintains that the Volkswagen distributor in Spain assumed the position of contractual responsibility of the manufacturer. First, it indicates that the distributor was indirectly owned 100% of its capital stock by the manufacturer. He had also sent a letter to vehicle users from the group’s brands in which he acknowledged the “impact of the EA189 Diesel engines.” According to the magistrates, this communication assumed its responsibility as a manufacturer and generated such confidence in the recipients.
“The Chamber considers that the plaintiff, in the context of the public scandal that led to the discovery of the manufacturer’s behavior, suffered non-pecuniary damage consisting of the uncertainty and unease derived from the uncertain consequences of this,” the ruling states.
The dealer, no liability
For this reason, Volkswagen Audi Spain must be liable for all consequential damages, including moral ones. However, since it is not proven that the dealer even knew about the installation of the device, in his case he does not attribute intentionality to it, nor does he claim responsibility for moral damages. “The vehicle distributor, which had not been the seller, lacked responsibility as a manufacturer for the installation in them of a fraudulent device that manipulated the control of the emission of polluting gases,” the court explains in the ruling.
The scandal dates back to September 2015, when it was discovered in the United States that the Volkswagen Group installed a diesel engine in the EA 189 family. software that it altered the emissions of the vehicle downwards when it detected that it was being subjected to an inspection in the rollers of a laboratory. The case was an earthquake in the automotive market. The diesel engine fraud affected the Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda brands. Altogether, up to 11 million affected vehicles were marketed worldwide. In Spain, the only way to obtain compensation for the acquisition of a vehicle affected by the dieselgate It is the judicial route. In fact, the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of 7,500 people claiming 22 million euros.
In the case that the Supreme Court has now ruled, at first, both the Court of First Instance and the Provincial Court dismissed the claim and the affected party appealed the rejection of the imputation of contractual liability of the distribution company and of the compensation. for moral damages requested. Now, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has partially upheld the appeal, the court considers “manifestly disproportionate” the amount claimed by the buyer, which amounted to 11,376 euros for the moral damages suffered and 6,644.71 euros for the interest and expenses of satisfied financing. Likewise, it requested 15,020.12 euros as compensation for damages caused by the depreciation suffered in the value of the vehicle. Therefore, finally, the ruling dictates a compensation of 500 euros with interest from the date of the sentence.