1,400 investor lawsuits seek $9.2B from VW

Associated Press

Frankfurt, Germany — A German court says it has added staff and storage space to handle a flood of 1,400 investor lawsuits against Volkswagen seeking damages worth 8.2 billion euros ($9.2 billion).

The regional court in Braunschweig said Wednesday that 750 lawsuits arrived on Monday alone from a single law office as a possible one-year deadline to file approached. The court said the Volkswagen investor lawsuits equaled about half of its normal intake for an entire year.

Institutional and individual investors claim Volkswagen did not disclose in a timely way that it faced costly action from U.S. regulators over cars with software that enabled them to cheat on diesel emissions tests.

They say the information could have enabled them to decide whether to sell their shares, which fell sharply after the U.S Environmental Protection Agency announced the case on Sept. 18, 2015.

Volkswagen said in a statement Wednesday that the company “remains of the opinion that it duly fulfilled its disclosure obligations under capital markets law. This view has also been confirmed by a careful examination by internal and external legal experts.”

Lawyers have said the courts may eventually find that investors had one year to file suit after the EPA announcement; the anniversary fell on a Sunday, leaving Monday as the possible deadline and leading some plaintiffs to file in order to be on the safe side.

Volkswagen says it met all its disclosure duties. The company says that ahead of the EPA announcement it still appeared as if the diesel violation could be resolved by working with authorities and paying a relatively modest fine in the area of $100 million or less.

Instead, the company has wound up setting aside more than 18 billion euros ($20 billion) thus far to cover fines and consumer claims. Volkswagen has agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement with U.S. authorities in federal court in San Francisco under which it has agreed to pay $10 billion to owners of 482,000 vehicles for repairs or buybacks. Some 11 million vehicles worldwide had the deceptive software.