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From Products Liability Law Daily, March 20, 2014

GM car owner files putative class action against company for defect cover-up

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

A putative class action lawsuit has been filed against General Motors (GM) in a Michigan federal district court. The compliant, which alleged damages in an amount exceeding $5 million dollars, stated claims for negligence and breach of both express and implied warranties (Jawad v. General Motors LLC, March 19, 2014, Goldsmith, M.).

Background. Adnan Jawad, the owner of a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, filed the action on behalf of himself and all other owners or lessees of the certain vehicles manufactured by GM, a class currently estimated by GM as being greater than one million individuals. The class-wide allegations are that GM manufactured and sold the defective vehicles that Jawad and all class members purchased, GM knew of the defects and took steps to conceal those defects from all class members, and that Jawad and the other class members suffered damages in the form of diminution of value of the defective vehicles.

General allegations. According to the complaint, GM filed a defect notice with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on February 7, 2014, to recall 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007 Pontiac G5 vehicles to correct a condition with the ignition switch that could allow the key to unintentionally move or switch to the “accessory” or “off” position, turning off the engine and most of the electrical components on the vehicle. The defect notice was amended on February 24 to expand the scope of the recall to include 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHRs, and 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice, and 2007 Saturn Sky models. The complaint further charged that GM was aware of the defect since 2004 but actively sought to cover up the defects while touting vehicle safety to its prospective customers. Despite its knowledge of the defect, the automaker did not attempt to cure the defects until 10 years after it first learned of them and the proposed recall failed to set forth specific dates and to provide specific actions as to the automaker plans to cure the defect.

Negligence count. In the negligence count, the complaint alleged that GM breached the duty of care owed the class in the design, manufacturer, testing, inspection, marketing, labeling, and sale of its product.

Breach of implied warranty count. The complaint further alleged by GM knew of the intended use for the allegedly defective vehicles and impliedly warranted that the vehicles were of merchantable quality and safe for that use. However, GM breached this warranty in the manufacturing of the vehicles, in its failure to conduct reasonable inspections or adequate testing of the defective vehicles, and in failing to provide adequate warnings of the serious risks posed by the defective vehicles. GM was also alleged to have breached an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose because the vehicles were not suitable for providing safe transportation.

Remedies.  The class is seeking damages including, but not limited to: (a) loss of use of the vehicles; (b) reimbursement of out of pocket costs for, among other things, alternative transportation, prior repairs, etc.; (c) diminution in resale value of the vehicles; and (d) an increased risk of physical harm. The class also requested injunctive relief including repairs to remove the defect, an extension of warranty coverage for the components of the ignition system, and detailed notice to individual owners affected by the defects containing instructions to park the vehicle, and order that GM pay for rental cars while necessary repairs are being made.

The case number is 4:14-cv-11151.

Attorneys: Kassem M. Dakhlallah (United Law Group, PC) for Adnan Jawad.

Companies: General Motors LLC.

MainStory: TopStory MotorEquipmentNews MotorVehiclesNews ProductRecallsNews DesignManufacturingNews MichiganNews

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