BMW's South Korean unit, which is mired in trouble over a spate of engine fire incidents, faces a series of lawsuits brought against it by angry Korean BMW owners. The car owners came forward to put pressure on the company through major law firms and the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA).
The KCA announced that the number of BMW owners who intend to file a lawsuit against the German automaker reached 1,500 on August 20. It started recruiting BMW owners who want to join the lawsuit on Aug. 13. The number of participants in the primary litigation is expected to surpass 2,000, according to Haeon Law, a Korean law firm that provides legal advice to the agency.
Haeon is planning to put more pressure on BMW Korea by applying for a provisional seizure order for the German luxury brand's driving center in Incheon.
Koo Bon-seung, a partner in Haeon Law, said, “We will ask a local court to issue a provisional attachment order for BMW assets in Korea, including the driving center building in Incheon and the rent deposits for the company's office in the State Tower Namsan in central Seoul, in order to secure credits ahead of the lawsuit." The driving center is worth more than 16 billion won (US$14.32 million).
Barun Law, another law firm which is representing two groups of BMW car owners, has also filed civil suits against BMW Korea over a faulty component that is suspected to have caused fires in their cars. The two groups of 120 BMW car owners brought a civil action with the Seoul Central District Court on the 17th and the 20th, seeking 5 million won (US$4,474) in damages. They haven’t suffered damage from the car fire incidents but they own the car models which are subject to a massive voluntary recall that the company announced. Considering the fact that 21 BMW car owners filed a civil suit against the company from July 30, the number of those who joined the civil lawsuits increased to 141.
In addition, online communities that help BMW car owners file a class action suit against the automaker sprang up on Internet portals, including Naver, from the end of last month when BMW Korea decided to issue the voluntary recall. There are tens and hundreds of posts updated on the online communities a day.
The car owners who joined the action complain of damages for safety concerns and a drop in used car value. The number of BMW vehicles which are subject to the massive voluntary recall stand at 106,317 for now. The prevalent view is that there will be more car owners who join the lawsuit in the future.