Chevrolet Silverado Owners In California Win $103M For Hidden Engine Defect

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A jury handed down its verdict today, including a $103M fine for General Motors.

Today, a California federal jury found that General Motors hid an engine defect that resulted in GM's cars consuming more oil than they should have.

The verdict came after a class action suit consisting of 38,000 individuals was filed. The result was engine damage, stalling, and the premature breakdown of tens of thousands of GM vehicles. SUVs and trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado were made from 2011-2014 and were fitted with the brand's 5.5-liter Vortec engine.

The defect itself was ruled to be defective piston rings. The jury took two days to deliberate the outcome. After finding in the plaintiff's favor, 38,000 individuals will be awarded $2,700. Only those 38,000 that joined the class action suit will be awarded compensation.

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The case itself was filed in the back half of 2016. Internal GM docs showed that the company knew about the faulty piston rings that caused the oil consumption issue as early as 2009. In 2010, GM told dealers to clean the pistons of the vehicles in question. When that didn't work, it was recommended the rings be changed.

However, the oil consumption issue persisted even after further changes were made in 2011. Vortec motors continued to eat oil until General Motors decided to discontinue the powerplant after the 2014 model year. The plaintiffs were represented by DiCello Levitt, who took the class action case to trial.

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"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," said Christopher Stombaugh, lead trial counsel in the case. The jury found that GM violated the breach of implied warranty of merchantability to California plaintiffs.

It also found the same breach occurred with North Carolina owners and that GM breached provisions of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act. It's scarce for class action suits to go to trial and rarer still that they are decided by a jury.

In the majority of cases, brands choose to settle the matter and pay out a cash settlement to each plaintiff without having to admit guilt.

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Unfortunately, GM won't be bothered by the sum awarded to plaintiffs, nor will plaintiffs be able to afford a replacement engine with the money. GM has a market cap of nearly $50 billion.

On top of that, the massive auto group cleared a hefty $17.9 billion profit just last year. GM is America's largest automaker, and its profit margins far outweigh the verdict handed down by the jury. However, it is at least something for plaintiffs.

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