— A GM cracked dash recall isn't likely to happen for owners of the following models after an appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a General Motors lawsuit.
- 2007-2014 Cadillac Escalade
- 2007-2014 Chevrolet Avalanche
- 2007-2014 Chevrolet Silverado
- 2007-2014 Chevrolet Suburban
- 2007-2014 Chevrolet Tahoe
- 2007-2014 GMC Sierra
- 2007-2014 GMC Yukon
The plaintiffs argue a GM cracked dash recall has long been needed because the automaker knew about dashboard problems based on pre-production testing that allegedly occurred in 2005 and 2006.
The plaintiffs also claim GM learned about the alleged dashboard defect because the automaker “follow[s] industry-approved engineering and quality standards” every time GM makes a change to its cars.
The GM dashboards have instrument panel part numbers 19331331, 19331340, 23224747, 23224748 and 23224749.
Because GM changed the dashboard design for its GMT900 series, the plaintiffs insist GM must have performed this testing “early in the design process” and uncovered the “safety risks associated with the changed design.”
Did GM Know About Cracked Dashboards?
But the appeals court determined the plaintiffs made no specific allegations about the results of the tests such as data or documents confirming or even suggesting whether the defect became known.
And “[j]ust because plaintiffs plead testing and the testing could reveal the safety risks alleged, does not make it plausible GM knew of the existence of these safety risks.”
In fact, the plaintiffs admit they never presented any “allegation that specifically says” pre-production testing alerted GM to the cracked dash defect.
The appeals court says all of this confirms the district court’s finding the plaintiffs never asserted how or why testing revealed the dashboard defect or alleged that through “this testing . . . GM somehow learned that the cracked dashboard was a risk.”
According to the appeals court, the cracked dash lawsuit doesn't explain how the plaintiffs determined a cracked dash posed a safety risk, "a fact that would have helped show how either party would have gained knowledge about the risk, not whether that risk existed."
The allegations in the lawsuit merely identify the dashboards can crack, and then the plaintiffs say GM could have theoretically known about the flaw. But the court says, "that’s not enough."
GM Cracked Dash Complaints
According to the GM cracked dash class action, customer complaints allegedly show GM knew the dashboard were defective, including from online complaints and complaints made to the government. This includes 239 complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) related to cracked dashboards.
But the appeals court found the existence of these complaints fails to show GM knew about alleged safety implications of the cracked dashboards.
"Indeed, only one customer articulated that the cracked dashboard could lead to an unsafe deployment of airbags. And so while the complaints might have put GM on notice about the cracked dashboard, they did not create knowledge about the safety risk alleged by Plaintiffs. That is especially true because the alleged airbag malfunction has never occurred." — Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
According to the plaintiffs, GM reads complaints online and searches government data searching for dashboard complaints, but the appeals court ruled the claims are speculative and include no supporting facts.
The court also referenced a previous Ford lawsuit where the district judge found a small number of complaints were nothing more than “a blip on Ford’s complaints-and-repairs radar” considering the millions of Ford cars on the roads.
The court ruled allegations of complaints made online and directly to Ford don't show Ford knew about possible problems with the dashboards. And nothing shows the dashboard complaints were “frequent enough that they were not lost in a sea of complaints and repairs amassing by the dozens each day.”
The appeals court also ruled the plaintiffs failed when claiming GM knew about dangerous dashboard defects based on an increase in dashboard warranty claims.
The class action alleges GM received data in 2019 about an increase in dashboard repair warranty claims. But the warranty claims don't prove GM knew about an alleged safety risk associated with alleged airbag problems.
And the appeals court says the plaintiffs "offer no facts showing why the warranty claims informed GM of the safety hazard rather than a mere cosmetic issue."
According to the court, many GM owners allege their dashboards did not crack until after driving their car tens or hundreds of thousands of miles over many years.
"So it seems odd to say GM knew, at the time of sale, about a dashboard crack that developed only after a GMT900 vehicle traveled many miles over many years. Rephrased, Plaintiffs’ argument implies that GM knew about the safety ramifications of that defect when it sold the cars even though the defect took time to manifest. That makes little sense."
The GM cracked dash lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan: Smith et al. v. General Motors, LLC.
The plaintiffs are represented by the Miller Law Firm, PC, Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody, Agnello, P.C., Seeger Weiss LLP, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.