STUTTGART (dpa-AFX) - More than six years ago, there were first accusations against Mercedes-Benz for diesel emissions manipulation. Now a new chapter is beginning for the carmaker in the affair: numerous investors accuse the listed company of not informing them in time about the scandal - and are therefore demanding damages totaling around 900 million euros for losses incurred. A so-called capital investor test case will start at the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court on Wednesday (1 p.m.).
However, the 20th Civil Senate is not expected to deal with substantive issues at the start of the trial. The start is planned as an organizational meeting. Accordingly, the parties are to discuss a classification of the complex subject matter of the proceedings and the structuring of the further conduct of the proceedings.
The sample plaintiff in the process - a private investor - is represented by the Kanzlei Tilp. According to the Tübingen lawyers, a large number of private investors and more than 200 institutional investors have joined the proceedings. Among them are banks, insurance companies and pension funds from Germany, other states of the European Union, North America, Asia and Australia.
The plaintiff investors accuse Mercedes-Benz Group AG of having violated its obligations under capital market law. The company allegedly concealed the use of illegal defeat devices in its diesel vehicles and the associated risks and costs from the capital market and misled investors about the true circumstances. Between July 10, 2012 and June 20, 2018, the share price of the former Daimler AG had fallen from more than 90 euros to less than 60 euros. Accordingly, the damages caused by share price losses are the subject of the lawsuits.
Mercedes-Benz clearly opposed the accusations: "We consider the claims to be unfounded," said a spokesperson. The company had properly fulfilled its disclosure obligations under capital market law, he said. "Our communication on the subject of diesel corresponded at all times to our state of knowledge at the time," he said.
The test case in Stuttgart could drag on for years. This is also shown by an example from Lower Saxony: in a similar lawsuit against the Volkswagen Group and the umbrella holding company Porsche SE, there is currently a dispute about damages for investors who suffered share price losses in the billions after the diesel affair at VW was exposed. The proceedings have been progressing only slowly since 2018. Until a possible decision is reached, the Higher Regional Court in Braunschweig still wants to hear dozens of witnesses and sift through a large number of documents.
Mercedes has had to deal with exhaust gas allegations for years. In 2018 and 2019, the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) had issued recall notices against a total of several hundred thousand of the manufacturer's vehicles due to an inadmissible exhaust technology. Since then, customers have also repeatedly filed lawsuits against the group./jwe/DP/zb