A Spanish court condemns Volkswagen to pay 19 million for “dieselgate”

The Commercial Court number 1 of Madrid has sentenced Volkswagen Spain to pay more than 16 million euros (about 19.50 million dollars) among those injured by the manipulation of the diesel engines of the EA 189 family, a case known as “dieselgate”, by estimating that the installed “software” camouflaged the conditions of the polluting emissions of the vehicles.

In the ruling, which the subsidiary of the German automobile group, has already announced that it will appeal, the magistrate estimates the class action lawsuit of the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), which requested compensation for damages of 3,000 euros (about $ 3,640 ) for each affected consumer whom it represented.

The magistrate also orders the subsidiary of the German automobile group to cease its “unfair” conduct and also orders it to pay the costs, with an express declaration of recklessness.

During the trial, held in February 2020, the Spanish subsidiary of Volkswagen dissociated itself from the trick because, given its status as an importer of the group’s vehicles, it did not intervene in the manufacturing process.

However, he ruled out that the “software” installed in them manipulated the data on polluting emissions and asked that the situation in Europe not be compared with the “dieselgate” that was uncovered in 2015 in the United States and that worldwide has affected 11 million engines.

Arguments that were rejected during the hearing by the consumer association, which assured that Volkswagen Spain acted “against the environmental policy of saving and efficiency” with which the company “won the sympathy of the average consumer” and snatched sales from your competitors.

Now the head of the court, Carlos Nieto, considers that the installation in these engines of a computer program “that offered an untrue image of polluting gas emissions” is an unfair practice.

Specifically, this “software” camouflaged “its true conditions” and simulated “the maintenance of high power levels and reduced consumption while publicly transmitting the idea of ​​a significant reduction in fuel consumption and polluting gas emissions”.

Among the proven facts of the sentence -to which Efe has had access-, the magistrate refers to the verdict handed down last year in which the Supreme Court of Spain sentenced Seat, as a member of the German automobile group, to compensate with 500 euros (about $ 610) to one affected by moral damages.

The judge also recalls that the German manufacturer has already reached an agreement to compensate the owners of the affected vehicles in Germany, “committing to pay between 1,350 and 6,250 euros (between 1,640 and 7,600 dollars) as of May 5.”

In his opinion, “at this stage of the so-called ‘dieselgate scandal'” it is an “irrefutable fact” that Volkswagen “developed and installed” software capable of detecting the performance of emission homologation tests and activating a mode of operation in these vehicles. engine “which for years falsified the results of the test for nitrogen oxide particles.”

However, the judge limits the list of affected persons represented by the OCU from the initial 7,542 to 5,444, by limiting the compensation to those whose vehicles were imported and distributed by the defendant and present the incidence in their engines.

The sentence also agrees the cessation of this practice since, in view of the evidence, there is no certainty that the company has completely ended them, nor that “they will not be repeated in the future.”

This measure does not try to condemn the group to a “permanent suspicion”, clarifies the judge, who regrets that he has not used “the same zeal” to provide “more conclusive evidence” on the disappearance of the manipulations than to deny the trickery and the compensation to those affected.

Sources of the Volkswagen group have advanced to Efe that an appeal against this sentence will be presented, while the OCU celebrates that “justice has finally been done”, although it warns that this “scandal” will not end “until all European consumers have been compensated. “