General Motors LLC failed to get a California federal judge to decertify a class of GM vehicle owners and lessees suing the company for an engine defect that causes full-sized SUVs and trucks to suddenly stop running due to excessive oil consumption, Law360 reported. This defect may also cause the engines to catch fire unexpectedly.

GM argued to U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen that the class should be decertified because the class representative didn’t meet the class definition after the judge narrowed the class’s scope last spring. But Judge Chen said that the class acted quickly enough to file a motion to substitute the representative. Judge Chen had initially tossed some claims in the lawsuit after finding that some vehicle owners had amended their complaints multiple times since the initial complaint was filed.

Plaintiffs in the case claim that their GM Generation Four Vortec 5300 V-8 engines consume oil in such high volume that they mess up spark plugs and wear down internal rotating components from inadequately lubricated metal-on-metal contact. According to GM documents as well as witnesses, the engine’s excessive oil consumption is caused by worn piston rings that allow oil to migrate into the combustion chambers.

Earlier this year, GM fought the proposed class action but Judge Chen could see the severity of the defect, stating “GM was aware of an oil consumption problem with the Gen IV engines as early as the end of 2008 or early 2009… Despite the fact that GM knew that the [repair] was ineffective by February 2010, it still directed servicers of GM vehicles to complete the procedure as part of the recommended response to oil consumption problems without addressing the root problem.”

Beasley Allen lawyers Clay Barnett, in our Atlanta office, and Mitch Williams in the Montgomery office represent plaintiffs in class action litigation involving defective auto products. They are currently handling cases in the class action involving GM’s engine defect.

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