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Old 08-18-2011, 06:25 PM   #1
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Default GM: Throw out Impala lawsuit

General Motors Co. says a class-action suit complaining that GM fixed rear-end problems on police versions of 2007-08 Impalas, but not those owned by some 400,000 other drivers, should be thrown out.

The Detroit automaker said in court papers that it cannot be held liable for damages relating to vehicles produced before the "new" GM was created after the "old" GM filed for bankruptcy in 2009, as part of a $49.5 billion government bailout.

The suit filed by a Pennsylvania Impala owner in U.S. District Court in Detroit in June should be thrown out because it attempts "to hold new GM responsible for old GM's liabilities," GM lawyer Benjamin Jeffers said in a court filing.

New GM, which was built from the viable assets of the old company, said it only agreed to warranty obligations of cars assembled before 2009.
"New GM did not assume liability for old GM's design choices, conduct or alleged breaches of liability under the warranty, and its terms expressly preclude money damages," the response says.

The suit "is trying to saddle new GM with the alleged liability and conduct of old GM."

GM has used this argument in an effort to block other suits from going forward, including one involving OnStar.

The Impala problem, according to the lawsuit, causes owners to burn through rear tires.

The suit wants GM to replace potentially faulty rear suspension rods. The Detroit-based automaker sold 423,000 Impalas over the two-year period.
The suit, if successful, could cost GM millions of dollars in replaced tires and parts.

It's the latest challenge by owners to automakers that limit the scope of recalls or service campaigns. It's also sparked dozens of angry complaints from owners.

Americans spend about $20 billion annually on about 200 million replacement tires, according to a 2006 government report.
Alignments and other related issues add billions in annual repair costs to the more than 250 million vehicles on American roads.

Suit: Lack of disclosure

The only owner currently named in the suit, Donna Trusky of Blakely, Pa., bought a new Impala in February 2008 and said the tires wore out within 6,000 miles.

Her GM dealer replaced the tires and provided an alignment, but didn't disclose the spindle rod issue, she said.

According to the suit, GM issued a service bulletin in 2008 for police versions of the Impala.

Last November, Trusky couldn't pass an annual inspection without getting another set of rear tires even though the vehicle had fewer than 25,000 miles.

"Despite having knowledge of this premature wear problem, (GM) has not recalled the subject cars, which has required class members to pay the cost of fixing the defective spindle rods as well as for replacement tires and realignment," alleges the lawsuit.

GM's legal response says because the trouble stems not from incorrectly manufactured spindle rods, but rather because the rod design was faulty. And that, GM says, precludes the lawsuit from going forward.

In its July 2008 bulletin for police-owned Impalas, GM told its dealers to replace the rods, align the rear wheels and, if necessary, replace the rear tires.

Police agencies that had replaced rear tires themselves could seek reimbursement for a year.

GM: Police cars different

GM has said the police version of the Impala was different from those sold to others. It has a special electrical system and special suspension system, GM said, to accommodate law enforcement needs.

Lawyers for Trusky cite numerous complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and message boards such as Edmunds.com, carcomplaints.com and aboutautomobile.com. The government has never opened a formal investigation into the 2007 or 2008 Impala.

In January, U.S. District Judge Sean Cox in Detroit ruled that in a dispute over GM's OnStar unit, "new" GM could not be added as a defendant because of the terms of the sale of assets.

The suit was filed in 2008 naming old GM, VW, Honda and Subaru over OnStar analog systems that stopped working in February 2008, despite the fact that the owners claim OnStar promised the systems would work for the life of the vehicles, among other issues.
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Old 08-18-2011, 08:16 PM   #2
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Holy terrible customer relations!
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Old 08-18-2011, 09:09 PM   #3
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Ha! **** GM. Same ****. Old GM = New GM. I know several engineers there. Nothing has really changed.
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Old 08-18-2011, 09:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Hites View Post
Holy terrible customer relations!
It would open them up to a bunch of lawsuits if they took this on. They are well within their rights to not claim responsibility for actions of "old" GM. That's how bankruptcy court works. The GM that built those cars is gone, the new GM simple bought the good assets of the old GM and decided to use the name too.
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Old 08-18-2011, 10:06 PM   #5
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Then the "new" GM shouldn't be responsible for the warranties either, but they chose to because of the benefit of maintaining the customer base.

To me this still falls as a warranty issue, and if they chose to take on that responsibility then they must take on this liability.
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Old 08-19-2011, 07:48 AM   #6
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The actual relevance is still in some question though. If the suspension is different as stated in the quote then there has to be some question about whether it applies anyway. I wish these sorts of things actually included some statistics so a person could tell if it was a real problem or if the bringer of the suit is just unlucky or plays burnout all the time.
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