Deutsche See Corporate Customer Sues VW over Dieselgate

Germany’s largest fish processing company, Deutsche See, is suing Volkswagen after it leased 500 diesel vehicles fitted with defeat devices.
Deutsche See CEO Egbert Miebach said he feels “cheated” by VW.

A corporate customer has filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen over Dieselgate, the first German company to do so since the outbreak of the emissions scandal.

A spokesman for Deutsche See, a fish processing company, told German news agency DPA on Sunday that it is claiming €11.9 million, or $12.8 million, in damages from VW and has lodged a complaint in Braunschweig district court. The spokesman emphasized that “environmentally-friendly mobility was the whole point of the partnership.”

Deutsche See claims to have leased 500 VW cars fitted with the emissions-rigging software. “We’re deeply disappointed by VW and feel we’ve been cheated,” said the company's chief executive, Egbert Miebach.

Deutsche See is headquartered in Bremerhaven on the coast of the North Sea. The company has 1,700 employees and brought in some €372 million in revenue last year.

In recent years, CEO Mr. Miebach has focused increasingly on sustainability. The German market leader sells fish and seafood farmed sustainably and has also sought to make its deliveries more environmentally friendly. The company uses e-bikes for short-distance deliveries and in 2010 switched its fleet of delivery vehicles and company cars to VW cars fitted with its "BlueMotion" diesel technology.

Deutsche See first stated its plan to file a complaint six months ago. Since then, all attempts to reach a settlement have failed. "We see no other possibility than a complaint to start a discussion with Volkswagen," the spokesman said.

Currently, the fish processing company is not only seeking compensation but also a different carmaker. "We're looking at other ideas with other manufacturers and are open to new partners," the Deutsche See spokesman said.