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. The class action alleges that GM knowingly sold vehicles in Ohio with engines “engineered to fail.” The failures stem from a defective combustion and oil containment system. Our attorneys filed the suit on behalf of Plaintiffs Airko Inc. and Lisa Mae Jennings, who bought 2013 Chevrolet Silverados. Their trucks are powered by the Generation IV Vortec 5300 Engine. This engine’s flawed combustion system components cause it to consume excessive oil and suffer early wear of many internal components.

The Engine Defect

The engines’ piston rings 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. The extra pressure pushes excess oil into the combustion chamber.

There, the oil either burns or accumulates as carbon buildup, which in turn coats the spark plugs. Covered in carbon, the spark plugs struggle to ignite gasoline in the combustion chamber. As a result, the vehicle can suffer poor ignition, misfire, power loss and eventual engine stall.

In addition, the vehicles’ oil monitoring systems fail to warn drivers about problems with the engine’s oil levels. The oil life monitoring system does not monitor the actual oil level, according to the suit. It instead monitors engine conditions such as temperature to guess the expected deterioration in oil quality. The proposed class also said the oil pressure gauge does not light up until the engines are well past the point of being “critically oil starved.”

As a result, the system allows vehicle owners to drive thousands of miles without warning them that the engine lacks proper lubricant. Without proper lubricant, engine components wear out quickly.

Plaintiffs know from evidence our attorneys developed that GM quickly learned of the defect through an extraordinary number of 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. Also, while GM rolled out a new (Generation V) engine in 2014, aiming to engineer around the defect, they abandoned owners of the Generation IV vehicles. The company offered them no relief after their warranties expired.

Case Information

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. They 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 itself, 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 name 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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