Carmaker Mercedes-Benz must pay compensation for unauthorized shutoff devices in diesel cars if the buyer has been damaged, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled today (Tuesday).
The case was brought to a court in Ravensburg, Germany by the purchaser of a used Mercedes whose exhaust gas recirculation system operated within a temperature range but reduced recirculation in lower temperatures, leading to increased nitrogen oxide emissions.
The German court had asked the ECJ whether, under EU law, the purchaser of a vehicle equipped with such a device has a right to compensation against the vehicle manufacturer and how this compensation should be calculated.
In Tuesday’s statement, the ECJ said that vehicle owners did have such a right, and member states were responsible for ensuring it was upheld.
Germany’s federal court had previously rejected the plaintiff’s claim to damages, arguing that the carmaker could only be charged as such if the damage was intentional.
But an advisor to the ECJ said last June that owners of vehicles equipped with such devices were entitled to compensation in both cases of intention and negligence.
The German federal court has scheduled a follow-up hearing for May 8 to discuss the implications of the European court ruling on German liability law.
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