November 19, 2015 / 2:57 AM / in 2 years

Australian law firm files $72-million class action against Volkswagen

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Law firm Maurice Blackburn will launch a class action lawsuit on Thursday on behalf of Australian owners of scam-tainted Volkswagen AG VOWG_p.DE seeking total damages “well north” of A$100 million ($71.59 million).

A Volkswagen logo adorns a sign outside a dealership for the German automaker located in the Sydney suburb of Artarmon, Australia, October 3, 2015. REUTERS/David Gray

Volkswagen is embroiled in a global recall scandal, and faces several class action lawsuits, after tests showed that thousands of vehicles had been fitted with devices designed to mask the level of emissions.

More than 10,000 Australian owners have already registered for the class action that targets the German parent companies involved in the emissions scam, not just the local subsidiaries, Maurice Blackburn said.

“I am extremely disappointed that, because of the company’s deceitful conduct, I’ve now got a car that is emitting dirty diesel,” Audi owner Robyn Richardson told a news conference in Sydney.

“I am here to bring them to account for what they’ve done. I‘m here to deter other companies from behaving similarly,” said Richardson, one of the lead applicants for the class action in Australia.

Maurice Blackburn Principal Jason Geisker said the litigation, on behalf of more than 90,000 car owners, will seek to recover the full cost of the vehicle, plus damages for misleading and deceptive conduct, among others.

Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) declined to comment on any “impending legal matters” but apologized for any disappointment and inconvenience.

“VGA assures all its customers that the affected cars are technically safe and the necessary measures will be undertaken at no cost to them,” it said in a statement.

“We will do everything we can to fix this problem and regain the trust of our customers.”

Volkswagen already faces a handful of shareholder lawsuits, including a securities-fraud class action in Virginia against its U.S. divisions and a planned claim by Dutch investor association VEB on behalf of investors who bought VW stock through a Dutch bank or broker.

The company is also battling dozens of class actions accusing it of fraud for selling supposedly low-pollution, high-horsepower, fuel-sipping vehicles that have declined substantially in value since the revelations.

Litigation funder Bentham Europe, a joint venture between Australia’s IMF Bentham IMF.AX and U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management on Nov. 5 said it was talking with Volkswagen’s 200 largest investors about filing a lawsuit in Germany, as soon as February, claiming negligence and breach of securities law.

Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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