GM Hit with $102.6 Million Jury Verdict in Class Action Over Defective Engines

2014 GMC Sierra 1500.

In a rare class action trial verdict, a California federal jury on Oct. 4 found the nation’s largest automobile manufacturer hid an engine defect that resulted in excessive oil consumption, leading to engine damage, stalling and premature breakdown in tens of thousands of General Motors’s 5.3-liter SUVs and light trucks. 

The jury returned a $102.6 million verdict against GM in a class action lawsuit led by national plaintiffs’ trial firm DiCello Levitt on behalf of owners and lessees of GM trucks and SUVs sold from 2011-2014 in California, North Carolina and Idaho, which contained the company’s Generation IV Vortec 5300 LC9 engine. 

The case was tried in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Filed in late 2016, the lawsuit claimed internal GM documents showed the company was quickly alerted to a defect in the engine’s piston rings that resulted in the vehicles consuming too much oil. The excess oil infiltrated parts of the engine where it didn’t belong, resulting in damage and, eventually, premature engine breakdown and failure. 

By 2010, GM recommended to its dealers they clean the pistons of the vehicles in question. That solution was ineffective and company engineers and other employees recommended the piston ring design be changed. GM made other ineffective engine design changes in 2011, but the oil consumption issues persisted until GM finally discontinued production of the engine following the 2014 model year.

“I am exceptionally proud of our trial team for its tireless preparation and aggressive advocacy is this case," said Christopher Stombaugh, lead trial counsel in the case and a partner at DiCello Levitt. “I am also thankful for the courage of the jury, which did the right thing in holding GM responsible for its deceit and half-hearted efforts to address its problems.”

The jury found GM violated the breach of implied warranty of merchantability to California plaintiffs, the breach of implied warranty of merchantability to North Carolina vehicle owners, and breached the provisions of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act. It awarded each of the 38,000 class members $2,700, bringing total damages to $102.6 million.

The case is Raul Siqueiros, et al. v. General Motors LLC, Case No. 3:16-cv-07244, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. 

Source: DiCello Levitt

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