GM to pay $102.6 million in class action verdict
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- General Motors has been found guilty of paying $102.6 million to 38,000 members of a federal class action lawsuit surrounding the Vortec LC9 engine.
- GMT900 platform vehicles built between 2010 and 2014, such as the Chevrolet Silverado, were found to have a faulty piston ring design, leading to significant engine issues.
- Owners of these vehicles in California, North Carolina and Idaho can receive a payment of $2,700 per person, although GM plans to appeal the verdict.
It’s been more than a decade since General Motors emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009. The so-called “new GM” launched a line of redesigned models soon after, hoping to revive the business. The most notorious of these models were built on the GMT900 platform, including models like the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Sierra, powered by the fourth-generation Vortec LC9 engine. Sadly, those halo models came back to bite GM 13 years later, to the tune of $102.6 million.
More specifically, the Vortec LC9 5.3-liter V8 used on GMT900 models from 2010 to 2014 is liable to lawsuits across the country, due to its faulty piston rings which allowed oil to travel past the crankcase. A Federal Class Action caused by 38,000 vehicle owners in California, Idaho and North Carolina alleges that this defect has led to constantly fouled spark plugs, excessive carbon buildup and even engine failure due to oil loss. And the plaintiffs successfully argued their case, with a federal jury verdict ordering GM to pay $102.6 million to the 38,000 class action owners. It’s $2700 per person.
“I am also grateful for the courage of the jury, which did the right thing in holding GM accountable for its deception and its half-hearted efforts to solve its problems,” said Christopher Stombaughlead attorney in the case and a partner at DiCello Levitt, the firm representing the plaintiffs.
GM disputes this result and said it does not believe this verdict is supported by evidence. The auto giant will seek relief after the trial and plans to appeal the verdict if the court allows it to stand. And it may have merit to do so, given that similar class action lawsuits for Vortec engines have been dismissed in other states like Ohio, Virginia and Washington.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the people of Detroit are ready to fight easily. After the original case, Raúl Siqueiros, et al. against General Motors LLC. was filed in 2016, owners across the country have since filed class action lawsuits, with a federal lawsuit pending in New York. All of these lawsuits hinge on courts finding that GM’s defective products and attempted fixes violated that state’s consumer protections, meaning one case can be dismissed in Ohio while another is tied. to a verdict in California.
GM has hit back at those claims in court, saying only 3% of the vehicles included in the lawsuit require repairs for oil consumption. Despite this, the engine was plagued with problems early on, with issues stemming from the piston rings as well as the fuel management system, and was eventually phased out of production in 2014. It was replaced by a another 5.3 liter V8, the EcoTec3 L83.
While $102.6 million isn’t a bankrupt for General Motors, the company is hell-bent on crushing those suits. It’s relatively rare to see a class action lawsuit go to court and see one with a verdict in favor of the classes, and it’s possible that GM doesn’t want to set a precedent with the case. As the case could soon go to the Federal Court of Appeals, the 38,000 class action members will likely have to wait a little longer for their money.