Dieselgate litigation

The Man in the Driving Seat

Litigator Michael Hausfeld (center) has made a name for himself by successfully suing big corporations.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    VW is facing legal claims and fines over the emissions-rigging scandal that could amount to €30 billion ($33.3 billion).

  • Facts


    • U.S. lawyer Michael Hausfeld has written to VW demanding to negotiate compensation on behalf of European customers.
    • Mr. Hausfeld commissioned two studies on the impact of the scandal and estimates the damage to amount to several billion euros.
    • VW’s management is increasingly worried about the mounting legal risks it faces.
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Michael Hausfeld is well known in German business circles. In 1999, the U.S. lawyer secured $5 billion in compensation from German companies for people enslaved as forced laborers in Nazi Germany.

Today, automaker Volkswagen, inundated with lawsuits over its diesel emissions scandal, will get a letter from Mr. Hausfeld’s new Berlin office. The star attorney, already leading class action suits against VW in the U.S., wants to secure billions of euros in compensation for customers and investors in Europe as well. He has already won a number of clients in Europe.

In his letter, which Handelsblatt has obtained, Mr. Hausfeld demands a meeting with VW chief executive Matthias Müller in the coming two weeks. If VW isn’t prepared to hold talks, Mr. Hausfeld will likely launch a class-action suit in Germany.

“There is absolutely no justification for European customers to be discriminated against,” said Mr. Hausfeld.

Enclosed with the letter, which was addressed to Mr. Müller personally, are studies on the manipulation of diesel engines and on the financial consequences that it caused in Europe, which Mr. Hausfeld estimates to amount to several billion euros.

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