Dieselgate: Investors file suit against Daimler AG

(lifePR) ( Kirchentellinsfurt, )
  • Claims for roughly EUR 900 million in damages filed with Regional Court of Stuttgart by institutional and private investors
  • Establishment of a model case for Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart to rule on imminent
On behalf of 219 institutional investors, the Tübingen law firm of TILP Litigation Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH ("TILP Litigation") filed suit on December 30th, 2019, against Daimler AG ("Daimler") with the Landgericht (Regional Court) of Stuttgart for damages totaling EUR 896 million. The plaintiffs include banks, capital management companies, insurance companies and reinsurers as well as sovereign wealth funds and pension funds from Germany, other Member States of the European Union, Northern America, Asia, and Australia.

The lawsuit is based on purchases of Daimler shares of stock (ISIN DE0007100000) made in the period from July 10th, 2012, until June 20th, 2018 (the so-called "disinformation phase"). The investors bringing the action claim that in connection with the Diesel scandal, Daimler violated duties under capital markets law. In particular, they allege that Daimler deliberately concealed the use of illegal defeat devices in the Diesel vehicles manufactured by the company, failed to disclose the risks and costs that this entailed, and misrepresented the actual circumstances to the capital markets. Over the course of the disinformation phase from July 10th, 2012, until June 20th, 2018, the price of Daimler's stock fell from over EUR 90 to below EUR 60. The damages suffered as a consequence are the subject matter of the actions now being brought.

"Any issuer of securities listed on a stock exchange must promptly and fully inform the capital markets of any inside information. We are convinced that Daimler failed to do so, both in its financial reporting and in ad-hoc notices," explained Andreas Tilp, attorney. "This means that the plaintiffs bought the Daimler stock at too high a price, and it is our conviction that Daimler is liable to them for compensation of damages," Tilp continued. His colleague Maximilian Weiss added, "We believe the claims against Daimler are excellently positioned. Further institutional investors that have suffered damages by significant share-price losses have let us know that they likewise intend to file suit in 2020."

Background

In September of 2015, the by now notorious Diesel manipulations by the Volkswagen Group became publicly known. Daimler reacted to the revelations by insisting that nothing of the sort had happened with Daimler vehicles and "categorically denie[d] any and all allegations of manipulation" in a press release on September 25th, 2015. Daimler's CEO at the time, Dieter Zetsche, personally got involved and repudiated any suspicions of this nature in an interview he gave to the Sunday edition of the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, stating that "a defeat device, i.e. a function that limits the efficacy of the emissions treatment in an inadmissible way, is not being used by Mercedes-Benz." Nearly three years later, however, the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority) arrived at a different conclusion and ordered a first recall, in May of 2018, of Daimler vehicles equipped with illegal emissions-cheating devices. In June of that year, the Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer announced that "the Government will order 238,000 Daimler vehicles to be immediately recalled Germany-wide because of unauthorized defeat devices. In Europe, a total of 774,000 vehicles have been found to contain the software."

Thereupon, TILP Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH ("TILP") filed suit on behalf of a private investor and concurrently filed an application for the establishment of a model case in accordance with the Kapitalanleger-Musterverfahrensgesetz ("KapMuG," Act on Model Case Proceedings in Disputes under Capital Markets Law). The Regional Court of Stuttgart held this application to be admissible and published it by notice. "Since TILP subsequently created all of the further formal pre-requisites necessary for model case proceedings to be conducted pursuant to the KapMuG, we expect an order referring the decision on the establishment objectives to the court of higher instance (Vorlagebeschluss) to be handed down in the near future, meaning that the model case proceedings may commence already before the summer break," Andreas Tilp, attorney, summarized the process. At the end of 2019, TILP had brought further actions against Daimler on behalf of more than 100 private investors.

For the Daimler Dieselgate claims, the TILP law firms once again are cooperating with the litigation finance syndicate of Therium/DRRT, which stands ready to provide funding also for the actions Daimler investors may bring in 2020. The consortium is also already assisting the investors who brought actions in the Steinhoff accounting scandal. In those model case proceedings, TILP is representing the model-case plaintiff before the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main. At present, the proceedings have been suspended to allow settlement negotiations to take place.

TILP has created a platform, www.daimler-claim.com, on which investors who have suffered a loss may register, free of charge, in order to obtain further information at no cost about the model case proceedings against Daimler.
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