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From Products Liability Law Daily, April 21, 2014

Putative class action against GM includes Continental Automotive Systems for failing to disclose defects in airbag systems

By Kathleen Bianco, J.D.

A putative class action claiming that GM and Continental Automotive Systems US, Inc., knowingly concealed safety defects in certain GM vehicles has been filed against GM and Continental in a California federal district court, on behalf of all persons who currently own or lease one or more of following vehicles: 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice, 2005-2010 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky vehicles. This filing represents the first complaint against the manufacturer of the airbag system (Saclo v. General Motors, LLC., April 16, 2014, Pifko, M.).

Background. Ken Saclo, Mel Cohen, Tiffany Malone, Dawn Orano, Lisa Teicher, Sue Nagle, Robert Young, Robbie Luthander, Heather Holleman, Jeremy Clinton, Tommy Tyson, Dawn Talbot, Tara Heath, Sarah Sloan, Bonnie Condon, Derek Wilson, Sherry Kielman, Sandra Levine, Jennifer Glasgow, Michael Owens, Shawn Doucette, Geraldine Miller, Christa Wessel, Pamela Maas, and Elizabeth Stewart, named plaintiffs in this action, allege, among other things, that GM and Continental knew that based on the design of the key and airbag systems in the allegedly defective vehicles that the airbags would not deploy if the ignition switch suddenly failed during normal driving operations. Each of the named plaintiffs alleged that he/she did not learn of the ignition switch defects until after the vehicle had been purchased, and that like any reasonable consumer, he/she would not have purchased the vehicle, would have paid less for the vehicle, would not have retained the vehicle, and/or would have demanded that GM correct the defects sooner but for GM’s fraudulent concealment of the defects and its deceptive practices which prevented these plaintiffs from taking any of these actions. As to Continental, the plaintiffs asserted claims based on fraudulent concealment and violations of California Unfair Competition Law.

General allegations. The complaint mirrors the charges filed against GM in earlier complaints, essentially alleging that GM knew of the dangerous nature of the defects in its vehicles and failed to eliminate the defects or to provide an adequate warning of the potential safety risks. The complaint in this case goes on to allege that GM’s airbag supplier Continental Automotive Systems U.S. Inc. knew its airbags would not deploy in accidents caused by the automaker’s defective ignition switches and failed to disclose that fact to the public, purchasers of the vehicles, or the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. Plaintiffs asserted that this failure contributed to the deaths of 13 people and evidenced a blatant disregard for public safety.

Remedies sought. The named plaintiffs seek actual, compensatory, punitive, and statutory damages/penalties for themselves and all class members. The complaint also asked that GM be permanently enjoined from continuing the unfair business practices alleged in the complaint. Finally, plaintiffs request that GM be required to repair the defective vehicles.

The case number is 8:14-cv-00604-DMG-RNB.

Attorneys: Jonathan Shub (Seeger Weiss LLP) for Ken Saclo.

Companies: General Motors, LLC; Continental Automotive Systems US, Inc.

MainStory: TopStory DesignManufacturingNews MotorVehiclesNews MotorEquipmentNews CaliforniaNews

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