General Motors customers are seeking $10 billion in damages in two consolidated complaints filed in federal court in New York last month. The two lawsuits include a class action alleging that defects, including fatal ignition switch problems, caused 27 million cars to drop in value. The suits allege violations of state consumer protection statutes, breach of implied warranties, fraud by concealment, unjust enrichment and other claims involving more than 60 recalls affecting GM-branded vehicles sold in the United States from model years 1997 to 2014.
The suits were filed by co-lead counsel Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, among others, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. As we have reported, hundreds of lawsuits have been consolidated against so-called “New GM” in the federal court in New York. Judge Jesse Furman, an experienced jurist, is in charge of this massive litigation.
The proposed class action seeks damages for a class of consumers and used-car dealers, including those who own or have owned or leased a new or used GM-branded vehicle sold between July 11, 2009, and July 3 of this year. The second consolidated suit, also a class action, was filed over cars bought or leased before GM’s bankruptcy. It’s alleged in the putative class action:
GM’s unprecedented abrogation of basic standards of safety, truthfulness and accountability to the detriment of tens of millions of consumers and the public at large. … The systematic concealment of known defects was deliberate, as New GM followed a consistent pattern of endless ‘investigation’ and delay each time it became aware of a given defect.
The primary class action covers all GM vehicles sold after its bankruptcy proceedings, accusing the auto maker of misrepresentation, concealment and non-disclosure of a slew of safety defects. The second consolidated complaint seeks compensation for owners of GM cars with ignition-related safety defects that can cause their ignition switches to change from the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” position while driving, causing a loss of power, vehicle speed control and braking, and a failure of the vehicle’s airbags to deploy.
The Plaintiffs filed the consolidated complaints pursuant to the pre-trial schedule established by Judge Furman in the MDL litigation pending in New York. Both complaints say the vehicles at issue started losing value in February 2014 and are continuing to do so through the present. It’s alleged that those vehicles include Chevy Camaros with model years 2010 and 2011 that lost $2,000 in value, and the 2009 Pontiac Solstice, which has lost almost $3,000 in value.
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