U.S. law firm seeks meeting with VW to negotiate compensation for European customers
Mar 16, 2016 10:35 PM EDT
U.S. law firm Hausfeld said it plans to pursue claims of European customers harmed by Volkswagen's emissions scandal. The move came as lawyers and legal organizations across Europe are busy looking for ways to cash in the scandal. The European VW customers lack the legal tools to set up a pan-EU class action lawsuit.
According to Reuters, in a letter to the German carmaker's top management and chairman, Hausfeld has called on the company to meet before the end of March to discuss potential European customer claims.
In a letter to Chief Executive Matthias Müller and Supervisory Board Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch, Hausfeld and his firm's German partner, Christopher Rother, requested the meeting to begin a process of dialogue with the company, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Michael Hausfeld, a Washington attorney, is one of 22 lawyers appointed by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer to work on the Volkswagen class action in the U.S. The scandal consolidates more than 500 civil suits filed across the country.
The carmaker admitted in September 2015 that it installed "defeat devices" to cheat emissions test in about 11 million diesel cars across the globe. Volkswagen announced two months later a $1,000 compensation program for U.S. customers.
U.S. District Judge Breyer told the company last month that he wanted a firm answer by March 24 on how the carmaker plans to fix the affected vehicles.
Hausfeld said he will push to get the same deals for Europeans as American customers and investors. He said the deal starting with $1,000 goodwill compensation that VW has ruled out for U.S. car owners.
In a phone interview reported by Politico, Hausfeld said there is no justification for not having similar payments for European customers because the damage they have suffered is the same.
Hausfeld's law firm said German VW customers alone could be entitled to claim up to 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion) in damages.
German law firm TISAB said 278 institutional investors in Volkswagen filed a 3.26 billion euros ($3.62 billion) lawsuit against the carmaker. The investors sued VW for what they see as breaches of its capital markets duty in the scandal.
Rother said the best way for Volkswagen to resolve the issue with its German customers would be to engage in negotiations on a compensation scheme as suggested by Ken Feinberg for U.S. customers. Rother said that he and Hausfeld offer to Volkswagen to initiate such a dialogue in order to avoid litigation.
The carmaker has so far declined any request for a negotiated settlement in such cases in Germany.