General Motors Class Action Lawsuit

Class action attorneys say GM engines were ‘engineered to fail’

On Nov. 23, 2020, our firm filed another proposed class action against General Motors LLC alleging that it knowingly sold vehicles in Ohio with engines “engineered to fail” through a defective combustion and oil containment system. Class action attorneys filed the suit on behalf of Plaintiffs Airko Inc. and Lisa Mae Jennings, who bought 2013 Chevrolet Silverados, powered by the Generation IV Vortec 5300 Engine, whose flawed combustion system components cause it to consume excessive oil and suffer aggressive premature wear of numerous internal rotating engine components.

The defects in the Airko and Jennings vehicle are the piston rings, which fail to keep oil in the crankcase, and combustion gases in the combustion chamber. Additionally, GM’s “Active Fuel Management” system aggravates the defect by overpowering the piston rings with oil spray, pushing excess oil into the combustion chamber.

There, the oil either burns or accumulates as carbon buildup, which in turn can cause it to coat the spark plugs, impeding their ability to robustly ignite the gasoline in the combustion chamber. This results in poor ignition, misfire, power loss and eventual engine stall.

In addition, the vehicles’ oil monitoring systems are deficient and fail to warn drivers that there is a problem with the oil levels in the engine. The oil life monitoring system does not monitor the actual oil level, according to the suit, but instead monitors engine conditions such as temperature to calculate expected deterioration in oil quality.

As a result, the system allows vehicle owners to drive thousands of miles without warning them that the engine lacks proper lubricant, which causes engine components to wear out. Neither does the oil pressure gauge properly warn drivers, the proposed class said, as it does not light up until the engines are well past the point of being “critically oil starved.”

Plaintiffs know from evidence Beasley Allen class action attorneys developed in the lead cases proceeding in the Northern District of California that GM quickly learned of the defect through an “extraordinary” number of consumer complaints and warranty claims. In response, GM instructed its dealers to use stop-gap fixes to address the excessive oil loss but failed to provide a complete remedy. And, while GM rolled out a new (Generation V) engine in 2014, aiming to engineer around the defect, GM abandoned owners of the Generation IV vehicles, offering them no relief after warranty expiration.

Airko and Jennings seek to represent a class of all Ohio buyers of Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado, Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Sierra, Yukon and Yukon XL vehicles from model years 2010 to 2014 and seek damages from GM for violations of the state’s Consumer Sales Practices Act and for breach of express and implied warranty, fraudulent omission and unjust enrichment. Our co-counsel Adam J. Levitt of DiCello Levitt Gutzler LLC stated:

While the strength of our complaint’s allegations speaks for themselves, the fact is that materially identical claims have already been roundly sustained in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, where classes have also already been certified. We see no reason why the same outcome shouldn’t happen here.

Clay Barnett, a lawyer in our firm’s Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section, who specializes in automobile-related class action litigation, stated:

Airko and Jennings purchased Silverados built on the same assembly line as the trucks that are the subject of the lead class in the Northern District of California. At the heart of assembly line production is uniformity, meaning these Plaintiffs’ trucks contain the same defective components and fail in the same manner as those trucks already certified for trial in California.

The case is Airko Inc. et al. v. General Motors LLC (case number 1:20-cv-02638) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Airko is represented by class action attorneys Dee Miles, Clay Barnett and Mitch Williams of Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles PC, and Adam J. Levitt, John E. Tangren and Daniel R. Ferri of DiCello Levitt Gutzler LLC.

This story appears in the January 2021 issue of The Jere Beasley Report. For more like this, visit the Report online and subscribe.

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