Another class action lawsuit over price collusion by truckmakers in Germany. In Spain, carrier wins a hefty compensation

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Last week, the court in Munich received another large class action lawsuit against truck manufacturers who kept fixing prices for 14 years. The suit applies to several thousand companies and tens of thousands of vehicles. In Spain, however, this week’s first judgment was made in the case against Volvo Trucks Spain. The amount awarded to the plaintiff is surprisingly high.

The German Federal Association for Road Transport Logistics and Waste Management (BGL) together with the Financialright Claims GmbH law firm filed a class action last Friday at the District Court in Munich, which includes claims of over 3.8 thousand transport and logistics companies from 26 countries. A total of three tonnes of files were brought to court, and the case concerns 64 thousand trucks purchased during the period of operation of the cartel. This is the second such union initiative regarding compensation from truck manufacturers.

This is not the first lawsuit filed by BGL. At the end of 2017, the association filed a lawsuit on behalf of 3,2 thousand companies from 9 EU countries at the District Court in Munich. At that time, the union estimated losses of carriers at 500 million euros (on average about 6,000 euros per truck). The process is to start in the next year.

In total, the District Court in Munich will decide on damages for 149 thousand vehicles purchased at inflated prices by companies that joined the two claims filed by BGL.

There are already similar cases in Munich

A month ago, a trial was initiated at the District Court in Munich regarding claims for damages against truck manufacturers brought by a German forwarding company based in Berlin and its subsidiaries. The companies demand compensation from MAN and Iveco for buying several hundred trucks between 1997-2011.

As the German media emphasize, up to now cases of transport companies against producers participating in collusion were settled in the first instance in favor of the plaintiffs. None of the courts has until recently fixed a specific amount of compensation. The first one fell in Spain.

Compensation in Spain

At Murcia Court of Commerce No. 1, a sentence was recently passed on a Spanish citizen or a company (the plantiff was not disclosed), reports the daily La Vanguardia.

The court decided that Volvo Group Spain is to pay the plaintiff 122,757 euros in compensation plus interest for the purchase of five lorries in October 2012. How was this possible since the cartel operated until 2011? The lawyer representing the plaintiff was able to prove that the price of trucks purchased in 2012 was still overstated due to the price collusion and by as much as 20.7 percent, which amounts to26 thousand euros per truck. This amount significantly exceeds the estimates of experts, which oscillated around the average amount of 10,000 euros per vehicle.

Had the court in Munich ordered manufacturers to pay damages at a similar level, their amount would only amount to almost 4 billion euros (plus interest) for both class actions of BGL.

Record punishment imposed by the European Commission

In July 2016, truck manufacturers MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF were fined by the European Commission with a record-breaking fine in EU history. Its total amount reached almost 3 billion euros.

Between 1997 and 2011, MAN, DAF, Daimler, Iveco and Volvo/Renault maintained price collusion on vehicles with a GVW from 6-16 tonnes and over 16 tonnes. The corporations pleaded guilty and accepted the decision of Brussels.

Just over a year later, on 27 September 2017, the European Commission imposed a fine on the Swedish car concern Scania for participation in the cartel. According to the Brussels decision, the penalty is 880 million euros.

As established by the European Commission, for 14 years the Swedish producer, together with five companies already punished in 2016, determined the prices of trucks and the costs of new technologies limiting exhaust emissions.

As evidenced by the court judgment in Spain and the number of claims in Germany, the collusion will cost the companies much more.

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