Hydra-Matic 8L90 and 8L45 transmissions have alleged internal defects that make driving risky.

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GM Transmission Lawsuit Partly Dismissed
Hydra-Matic 8L90 and 8L45 transmissions have alleged internal defects that make driving risky.

— A GM transmission lawsuit has been partly dismissed after five class actions were consolidated in a Michigan court, with GM owners alleging the Hydra-Matic 8L90 and 8L45 transmissions are defective.

According to the GM transmission lawsuit, the following vehicles have transmissions that slip, buck, kick, jerk and harshly engage when shifting gears.

  • 2015-2019 Chevrolet Silverado
  • 2017-2019 Chevrolet Colorado
  • 2015-2019 Chevrolet Corvette
  • 2016-2019 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 2015-2019 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV
  • 2016-2019 Cadillac ATS
  • 2016-2019 Cadillac ATS-V
  • 2016-2019 Cadillac CTS
  • 2016-2019 Cadillac CT6
  • 2016-2019 Cadillac CTS-V
  • 2015-2019 GMC Sierra
  • 2015-2019 GMC Yukon
  • 2015-2019 GMC Yukon XL
  • 2015-2019 GMC Yukon Denali XL
  • 2017-2019 GMC Canyon

In 2014, GM began selling the vehicles with 8-speed 8L90 and 8L45 automatic transmissions which allegedly suffer abnormal internal wear and sudden acceleration, delays in downshifts, delayed acceleration and the vehicles allegedly have difficulty stopping.

The plaintiffs claim the problems can be fixed only with transmission replacements and driving the unrepaired vehicles causes safety hazards. Owners allege their vehicles suddenly lurched into intersections while the drivers were trying to proceed slowly.

Other owners claim their vehicles accelerate when trying to merge with traffic and sometimes won't downshift even when braking.

The GM transmission lawsuit alleges problems inside the transmission and torque converter leads to friction and metal shavings sent throughout the transmission.

The class action also references dozens of technical service bulletins (TSBs) issued to dealerships based on transmission complaints made by drivers. But even with those bulletins, GM dealerships allegedly tell owners the vehicles are operating properly.

Motion to Dismiss the GM Transmission Lawsuit

General Motors argues all the claims should be dismissed, including express warranty claims because the transmission lawsuit alleges “all” 8L45 and 8L90 transmissions suffer from the same defects. GM says this shows the plaintiffs are talking about a design defect, something not covered by the warranty.

General Motors argues other federal courts have held that GM’s express warranty covers defects in “materials and workmanship,” not design defects.

However, the judge ruled the lawsuit puts forth arguments that are consistent with defects possibly caused by design problems, but also due to poor materials and workmanship. According to the judge, the 8L45 and 8L90 transmission express warranty claims can't be dismissed at this stage of the lawsuit.

The judge also allowed implied warranty claims to proceed even though GM argued the plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege the vehicles weren't fit for their intended purpose of providing transportation. In addition, none of the plaintiffs claim they stopped driving their vehicles due to transmission problems.

But the judge disagreed with the automaker and said consumers expect the vehicles to transport occupants in a safe and reliable manner, something the lawsuit alleges doesn't happen.

Judge David M. Lawson ruled most of the GM transmission lawsuit allegations can proceed, minus a claim for class-wide money damages under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, which was dismissed with prejudice.

In addition, the judge dismissed implied warranty claims of all plaintiffs under the laws of Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin. And another implied warranty claim was dismissed for a Tennessee plaintiff.

Importantly, the judge didn't shoot down claims that GM may have acted fraudulently by selling vehicles it knew were defective because of the allegedly faulty transmissions, while concealing the defects from the buying public.

"At this early pleading stage, based on all of the facts noted above, plaintiff-favorable plausible inferences may be drawn that GM had substantial knowledge about the looming problems with its new transmissions before any of the plaintiffs’ purchases were made." - Judge Lawson

The GM transmission lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division - Francis, et al., v. General Motors, LLC.

The plaintiffs are represented by Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, and Gordon & Partners.


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