General Motors Hit With $102.6 Million Jury Verdict in Class Action Over Defective Engines

Oct 04, 2022

DiCello Levitt trial team wins huge verdict on behalf of owners and lessees of GM trucks and SUVs with 5.3-liter Vortec engines

SAN FRANCISCO, October 4, 2022 –In a rare class action trial verdict, a California federal jury today found that the nation’s largest automobile manufacturer hid an engine defect that resulted in excessive oil consumption, leading to engine damage, stalling, and premature breakdown in tens of thousands of General Motors’s (NYSE: GM) 5.3-liter SUVs and light trucks. The jury returned a $102.6 million verdict against GM in a class action lawsuit led by national plaintiffs’ trial firm, DiCello Levitt, on behalf of owners and lessees of GM trucks and SUVs sold from 2011-2014 in California, North Carolina, and Idaho, which contained the company’s Generation IV Vortec 5300 LC9 engine. The case was tried in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  

Filed in late 2016, the lawsuit claimed that internal GM documents showed that the company was quickly alerted to a defect in the engine’s piston rings that resulted in the vehicles consuming too much oil. The excess oil infiltrated parts of the engine where it didn’t belong, resulting in damage and, eventually, premature engine breakdown and failure. 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. 

“I am exceptionally proud of our trial team for its tireless preparation and aggressive advocacy is this case, said Christopher Stombaugh, lead trial counsel in the case and a partner at DiCello Levitt. “I am also 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. None of this would have been possible without the assistance of our co-lead trial counsel at Beasley Allen and our additional co-counsel Jennie Anderson of Andrus Anderson LLP, and Anthony Garcia of AG Law. I thank them for their contributions and commitment to our trial strategy.”

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. It awarded each of the 38,000 class members $2,700, bringing total damages to $102.6 million.

“Very few class action cases ever go to trial, let alone to verdict,” said Adam Levitt, co-trial counsel in the matter and a DiCello Levitt founding partner. “This one did and we did it. As a ‘trial first’ law firm, our responsibility is to obtain the best-possible results for our clients and the classes that we represent. It’s extremely gratifying to see the jury respond so favorably to our trial team’s relentless preparation and trial presentation.”

The DiCello Levitt trial team members included Levitt, Stombaugh, John Tangren, Dan Ferri, Mark Abramowitz, and Joseph Frate.

The case is Raul Siqueiros, et al. v. General Motors LLC, Case No. 3:16-cv-07244, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. A copy of the jury verdict is available upon request, and members of the DiCello Levitt trial team are available for interviews.

About DiCello Levitt 

At DiCello Levitt, we’re dedicated to achieving justice for our clients through class action, business-to-business, public client, whistleblower, personal injury, and mass tort litigation. Our lawyers are highly respected for their ability to litigate and win cases – whether by trial, settlement, or otherwise—for people who have suffered harm, global corporations that have sustained significant economic losses, and public clients seeking to protect their citizens’ rights and interests. Every day, we put our reputations—and our capital—on the line for our clients. 

About DiCello Levitt’s Trial Advocacy Center

One of our firm’s proudest innovations is the DiCello Levitt Trial Advocacy Center. Litigation firms are common in the U.S.—but DiCello Levitt is a trial firm. We approach client cases from a trial-first perspective, identifying and analyzing critical issues at all stages of a litigation, enabling us to fine-tune our approach, mobilize our team, engage the right resources, and dictate the path to victory in each of our cases. We created the Trial Advocacy Center to address how the digital universe has reshaped the way people process information, how today’s jurors make decisions, and what truly motivates them at their core. Using a proprietary system, we survey, test, intuit, and then re-test to grasp the nuances of a jury’s mindset; pursuing the truth with a scientific focus on what persuades, what connects, and what wins.

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Jason Milch


Luke Allingham


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