— A GM truck transmission lawsuit may continue for GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado owners in Florida, but a federal judge says there will be no nationwide class action concerning the 6L50 transmissions.
The lawsuit alleges 2015–2017 GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado trucks are equipped with transmissions that experience "premature internal wear, sudden acceleration, delay in downshifts, delayed acceleration and difficulty stopping the vehicle, and eventually suffers a catastrophic failure."
According to the plaintiff who filed the proposed class action, the transmissions harshly engage, jerk, slip, buck and kick.
According to the plaintiff, the General Motors truck transmissions have caused owners to complain to the automaker, federal safety regulators and to CarComplaints.com.
The plaintiff says his new 2015 Chevy Colorado had trouble downshifting when going up hills, so the dealer reprogrammed the transmission and engine control modules. But the plaintiff says the repairs didn't end the alleged transmission problems and a few years later the truck started shuddering when accelerating.
According to the lawsuit, the dealership returned the truck to the plaintiff even though no repairs were made.
General Motors filed a motion to dismiss the truck lawsuit and succeeded in convincing the judge a nationwide class action could not proceed.
According to the judge, the plaintiff who filed the lawsuit didn't base his claims on the application of other states' laws. Therefore, the plaintiff lacks standing to bring claims on behalf of a nationwide class of GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado owners.
That left the judge with ruling on the remaining claims for truck customers in Florida.
According to the plaintiff, General Motors breached implied warranties, but the judge says, "[U]nder Florida law, a plaintiff cannot recover economic losses for breach of implied warranty in the absence of privity."
The lawsuit specifically says:
"GM sells vehicles through a network of authorized dealerships that are the agents of GM, and under extensive control of GM."
However, the judge ruled the plaintiff failed to allege facts supporting his assertion that the dealership was an agent of GM and under its control. According to the judge, the "plaintiff's allegations fail to demonstrate privity of contract between him and GM," therefore the implied warranty claim fails.
The judge did let pass a claim for breach of express warranty, and because that claim survived so did a claim concerning the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
A claim against GM for common law fraud didn't get far as the judge ruled the allegations don't adequately plead the automaker knew about an alleged transmission defect.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff argued GM knew about alleged problems with the trucks due to internal tests and customer complaints. However, the judge said courts "routinely reject generalized allegations about 'testing' and manufacturer 'analyses' made in support of finding knowledge of a defect."
The judge also wasn't impressed by arguing complaints made by customers automatically mean the automaker "knew" about alleged problems with the trucks.
"And Plaintiff's allegations of consumer complaints online or to the NHTSA are insufficient to support a finding of GM's knowledge."
The judge found most of the customer complaints were filed after the plaintiff purchased his truck, so the plaintiff can't say GM had knowledge of alleged problems prior to the purchase of his truck.
As for internal records held by the automaker, the judge said any allegations GM knew of alleged defects are "conclusory and insufficient because they do not plausibly allege that GM "knew of the defect prior to the time it distributed" the trucks.
The judge also dismissed a claim of unjust enrichment because under Florida law, "the existence of an express contract between the parties concerning the same subject matter" precludes a claim for unjust enrichment.
In the end, Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III, dismissed the plaintiff's implied warranty, fraud, Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and unjust enrichment claims. In addition, claims on behalf of a nationwide class of truck owners was dismissed for a lack of standing.
Claims for breach of express warranty and violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act made on behalf of the plaintiff and a class of Florida truck owners will remain.
The GM truck transmission lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan - James McKee, et al., vs. General Motors LLC.