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Thursday, February 20, 2020

GM files motion to dismiss second amended complaint in class action over engines

By Sara McCleary | Nov 21, 2017

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SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) – General Motors has filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice the second amended complaint brought against it in a class action suit.

The motion was filed on Oct. 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. The 37 plaintiffs, headed by Monteville Sloan Jr., allege that the automobile manufacturer used a faulty engine in several of its vehicles that led to the consumption of abnormally high volumes of oil and corresponding damage to internal components of the vehicles’ engines.

The complaint makes 142 claims for relief, including violations of the Magnuson Moss Act, California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and California’s Unfair Competition Law, as well as breach of express and implied warranties, fraudulent omissions and unjust enrichment. Several other counts fall under consumer protection statutes of other states.

GM argues in its motion that the second amended complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The company states that the plaintiffs’ fraud and consumer protection claims fail because the plaintiffs did not show that the defect creates a safety hazard. The company cited the numerous safety warnings built into its vehicles to alert drivers to low oil pressure, arguing that even an excessive use of oil by the engine would not lead to vehicle damage if the driver heeded the warnings.

GM also asserts that those claims fail because the plaintiffs did not show that the company knew of the defects prior to sale. The complaint alleged, in part, that GM’s design of a new engine for later models to replace the defective model demonstrates that it knew of the defect. The company, however, points that that the court’s order dismissing the plaintiffs’ first amended complaint already addressed this matter, stating that “the mere fact that GM used different oil rings when redesigning its engines does not show its prior knowledge of the defect.”

Another major part of GM’s argument in support of its motion to dismiss is its assertions that the implied warranty claims against it must fail. 

“None of the plaintiffs alleges that he or she stopped driving a subject vehicle or that it has somehow become unsuitable for its ordinary purpose of providing transportation,” GM argues. 

As per a 1995 decision in the Superior Court, a vehicle can only be found to have breached an implied warranty of merchantability if it becomes entirely incapable of being driven, points out GM.

GM concludes its motion to dismiss by arguing that at least 22 of the 37 plaintiffs’ claims for unjust enrichment have exceeded applicable statutes of limitations, so must be dismissed on those grounds alone.

A motion to dismiss hearing has been set for Dec. 14 at 1:30 p.m. before Judge Edward M. Chen. On Aug. 1, Chen had granted GM’s motion to dismiss the first amended complaint against it.

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General MotorsU.S. District Court for the Northern District of California