A German judge has asked Deutsche Bahn for more evidence to back its claim for damages against Bombardier Inc., based on its argument that the world’s biggest train maker deliberately sold it defective local commuter trains that had suffered a series of breakdowns since 2009.
At the start of the civil proceedings on Wednesday, Judge Lothar Juenemann said in state court in Berlin that Deutsche Bahn had so far not provided enough proof that the Canadian company had intentionally deceived the German national railway.
“I find it hard to speak of wilful deception here,” Juenemann said during a three-hour hearing. He added that intentional deception would have to be proven for there to be compensation.
A lawyer for Deutsche Bahn’s subsidiary S-Bahn Berlin said the company stood by its claim that Bombardier had deliberately deceived it about the quality of train equipment, in particular the wheels and brakes.
But a lawyer for Bombardier rejected Deutsche Bahn’s claims and asked the court to quickly end the lawsuit with a clear ruling.
The judge asked S-Bahn Berlin to provide further backing for its case in writing within three months. After that, Bombardier would have the chance to respond in writing. The judge postponed the civil case until February, 2015.
Deutsche Bahn is suing Bombardier for €350-million ($523-million) in damages, alleging “serious defects” with the brakes and wheels. The lawsuit comes after the collapse of attempts by the two companies to reach an out-of-court settlement.
Bombardier has said the claims regarding the Class 481 trains used on the S-Bahn line in Berlin were without merit and the allegations were defamatory.
According to Bombardier, the general warranty for the S-Bahn trains ended in 2007 by mutual agreement.
S-Bahn Berlin has been responsible for the trains’ maintenance from the start and Bombardier had no contractual obligations for maintenance and repair of the 481 series, the Canadian company said last year.
Deutsche Bahn is suing Bombardier separately for an additional €160-million over issues with other trains.
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