— A class-action lawsuit against General Motors concerning false safety ratings on window stickers for 2014 Cadillac CTS cars will proceed after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the automaker.
Plaintiff Geri Siano Carriuolo filed the 2014 lawsuit after purchasing a 2014 Cadillac CTS the plaintiff believed had achieved 5-star safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Carriuolo had every right to believe what she did about the safety ratings because the window sticker, called a Monroney sticker, clearly said the CTS was awarded 5-star safety ratings in three categories: Frontal Crash Driver, Frontal Crash Passenger and Rollover.
Things were fine for the next four months until the plaintiff got a letter from GM that said the Cadillac CTS window sticker was wrong.
According to the lawsuit, GM told owners the CTS didn't have 5-star safety ratings from NHTSA because the cars hadn't yet been tested by NHTSA. Carriuolo alleges the false window stickers caused consumers to pay a premium for cars with non-existent safety ratings.
Other Cadillac owners across the country also complained about the incorrect window stickers and imaginary 5-star safety ratings.
"Purchased a new 2014 Cadillac Cts, window sticker showed clearly and as a selling feature that the car received a government 5 star safety rating for frontal crash, driver and passenger and for roll over. Five months later, May 16, 2014 I received a letter from Cadillac stating that there was an error and the car did not receive a 5 star government rating and they sent me a new window sticker.. I feel this is false advertising promoting the safety of the car based on us government safety rating." - 2014 Cadillac CTS owner / Woodbury, New York
The lawsuit alleges that in an attempt to satisfy Cadillac customers, GM offered those customers satellite radio service in addition to On-Star service as compensation for the errors.
A district court had certified the case as a class-action but General Motors appealed the certification by arguing the court erroneously certified the lawsuit because:
- There are not questions of law or fact common to the class.
- Any common questions of law or fact do not predominate.
- A class action is not superior.
- The representative parties will not fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
GM essentially claims that trying to calculate damages based on each customer will cause problems if the claims are treated the same under a class-action lawsuit.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the automaker and agreed with the plaintiffs, ruling the lawsuit was correctly certified as a class-action by the district court. The court upheld class-action certification by saying each owner is connected by the question: Did General Motors violate the law by affixing inaccurate Monroney stickers to 2014 Cadillac CTS sedans sold or leased in Florida?
The court ruled it was obvious NHTSA had not assigned any safety ratings to the 2014 Cadillac CTS cars because they hadn't been tested by the government.
The case will proceed based on violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act that says a company cannot use "[u]nfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce."
The General Motors 2014 Cadillac CTS window sticker lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida - Carriuolo, et al v. General Motors Company.
The plaintiff is represented by Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather, Keen & Littky-Rubin.
Although GM has been dealing with the Cadillac CTS window sticker issues since 2014, the automaker is currently steeped in a load of problems concerning incorrect window stickers on popular SUVs.
General Motors says about 170,000 model year 2016 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia SUVs had window stickers with false fuel economy ratings.