General Motors is being hit with a pretty damn big class action lawsuit verdict in California. According to Business Wire, a jury slapped GM with a $102.6 million verdict over accusations it hid an engine defect that led to excessive oil consumption.
The issue – which came from GM’s 5.3-liter V8 engine – impacted tens of thousands of trucks and SUVs. Oil consumption, would of course affect oil levels that would eventually cause engine damage, stalling issues or premature breakdowns.
The lawsuit – which was tried in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California – was led by national plaintiffs’ trial firm, DiCello Levitt, on the behalf of owners and lessees of the affected vehicles which were sold between 2011 and 2014 in California, North Carolina and Idaho.
It’s reported that the lawsuit – Raul Siqueiros, et al. v. General Motors LLC – was first filed in 2016 and claimed that internal documents from GM show that the company was quickly made aware of a defect in the Generation IV Vortec 5300 LC9 engine. Apparently, the engine’s piston rings were defective, which allowed oil to get into parts of the engine it wasn’t meant to be, which then caused the engine to go through irregular amounts of oil.
By 2010, GM recommended to its dealers that they clean the pistons of the vehicles in question. That solution was ineffective and company engineers and other employees recommended that the piston ring design be changed. GM made other ineffective engine design changes in 2011, but the oil consumption issues persisted until GM finally discontinued production of the engine following the 2014 model year.
The jury found that GM violated the breach of implied warranty of merchantability to California plaintiffs, the breach of implied warranty of merchantability to North Carolina vehicle owners, and breached the provisions of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act.
While $102.6 million may sound like a lot of money, it’s just a drop in the bucket for a company with a market cap of nearly $50 billion. And because this is a class action lawsuit with 38,000 members, each person will only get $2,700, which might cover just some of the repairs and the loads of oil those customers had to work with.