GM hit with $102.6 mln jury verdict in engine flaw class action

A General Motors logo is seen at a car dealership in Toronto December 12, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Cassese
  • Jury's award represents $2,700 for each class member
  • GM was aware of flaw by 2010, plaintiffs claimed

Oct 6 - A California jury has ordered General Motors LLC to pay $102.6 million to a class of consumers after finding that it hid an engine defect that caused problems including stalling and premature breakdown in tens of thousands of SUVs and trucks.

The verdict was handed down Tuesday following a rare class action trial in San Francisco federal court, lawyers for the plaintiffs announced.

The winning class includes owners and lessees of SUVs and trucks sold from 2011-2014 in California, North Carolina and Idaho that contained the company's Generation IV Vortec 5300 LC9 engine. Each of the roughly 38,000 class members will get $2,700.

Christopher Stombaugh of DiCello Levitt, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement he was "thankful for the courage of the jury, which did the right thing in holding GM responsible for its deceit and half-hearted efforts to address its problems."

GM said in a statement that it did not believe the verdict was supported by the evidence and planned to appeal.

The plaintiffs' 2016 lawsuit centered on an alleged defect that caused the engines to use too much oil and allowed oil to reach parts of the engine where it did not belong, causing damage. They said the company was aware of the problem by 2010, when it recommended to its dealers that they clean the vehicles' pistons to address the problem.

When that did not work, GM made design changes to the engine in 2011, but ultimately failed to solve the problem and discontinued the engine after the 2014 model year, the plaintiffs said.

GM has faced litigation accusing it of covering up problems with its vehicles over the years, including alleged deadly flaws in steering wheel sensors and ignition switches.

The case is Siqueiros et al v. General Motors LLC, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 3:16-cv-07244.

For plaintiffs: Christopher Stombaugh of DiCello Levitt

For GM: April Ross of Crowell & Moring

Reporting by Brendan Pierson. Editing by Alessandra Rafferty and Bernadette Baum.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Brendan Pierson reports on product liability litigation and on all areas of health care law. He can be reached at brendan.pierson@thomsonreuters.com.