— A GM oil consumption lawsuit has been dismissed over vehicles equipped with Generation IV 5.3 Liter V8 Vortec 5300 LC9 engines.
The oil consumption class action lawsuit alleges Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra, GMC Yukon and GMC Yukon XL vehicles are defective if they are equipped with the Vortec 5300 LC9 engines.
Plaintiff Seth Hackler bought a new 2013 Chevrolet Silverado equipped with a Generation IV 5.3 Liter V8 Vortec 5300 LC9 engine.
The GM lawsuit alleges the automaker knew the engines were defective beginning in 2008 or 2009 when GM opened the "Red-X" investigation to collect engines from dealers.
The class action alleges oil consumption problems are caused by the location of the active fuel management oil pressure relief valve. The investigation also showed the secondary cause of problems was the higher tension oil pump spring used in the first three months of production for 2007 models.
According to the plaintiff, his truck went into limp mode in 2015, causing the oil light to turn on and the engine to shut down. The GM oil consumption lawsuit asserts the plaintiff pulled off the road into a service station to check the oil level. The plaintiff added 2.5 quarts of oil to the engine.
The dealership said the oil looked fine, but technicians performed an oil change. Then in 2017 an oil leak occurred from the rear main seal which was repaired by a non-GM dealer.
However, the oil consumption lawsuit alleges the oil pressure light illuminated when the truck had about 100,000 miles on it. The GM dealer said the truck needed an upgraded valve cover “to help with oil consumption.”
The plaintiff then filed the GM oil consumption lawsuit.
GM Oil Consumption Lawsuit Dismissed
In a previous motion to dismiss, Judge Lisa Godbey Wood dismissed breach of express warranty, fraudulent concealment/omission, unjust enrichment and Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claims. This left only a claim for alleged violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA).
The plaintiff said GM violated the FDUTPA because it knowingly sold vehicles with an oil consumption defect. GM counters the plaintiff’s FDUTPA claim is barred by the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for claims brought under the FDUTPA is four years beginning at the time of purchase. But the plaintiff argues his claim is not barred by the four-year statute of limitations because the automaker fraudulently concealed oil consumption problems.
In the legal world, the statute of limitations may mean nothing, including under Florida law if there is evidence of fraudulent concealment by GM.
This can can toll (suspend) the statute of limitations for a claim when the plaintiff proves “(1) successful concealment of the cause of action; (2) fraudulent means to achieve that concealment and (3) that the plaintiff exercised reasonable care and diligence in seeking to discover the facts that form the basis of the claim.”
According to Judge Wood, the plaintiff must prove “that [d]efendant deliberately and actively concealed the material facts for the purpose of inducing [him] to delay filing this action.”
In addition, the judge said a plaintiff alleging fraudulent concealment for tolling purposes must prove, “an affirmative act that served to dupe, trick or hoodwink the plaintiff such that he or she was falsely enticed into inaction after her cause of action accrued”.
“The Eleventh Circuit has explained that ‘[f]raudulent concealment requires the defendants to engage in the willful concealment of the cause of action using fraudulent means to achieve that concealment.’” — Judge Wood
The judge dismissed the claim, and therfore the lawsuit, by ruling there was no evidence of fraudulent concealment.
Judge Wood said the "plaintiff has not presented evidence to show that GM’s technicians’ diagnoses were false or misleading or intended to conceal a defect. Nor has he submitted evidence as to how GM’s technicians prevented him from discovering his claims."
The GM oil consumption lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia (Brunswick Division): Seth Hackler v. General Motors LLC.
The plaintiff is represented by Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., and DiCello Levitt Gutzler LLC.