Getting Justice from General Motors

Case Synopsis:

This case involves a 2016 GMC Sierra truck. Our client, Mr. Rodriguez (client name has been changed for privacy), purchased General Motors’ flagship truck brand new in 2016. After spending some time searching, our client settled on his dream truck, sparing no expense, spending approximately $75,000.00, complete with GM’s full express written warranty. In exchange, through its warranty, GM promised it would remedy any problem, bumper to bumper, with the truck if one should arise. Mr. Rodriguez fulfilled his promise, paying for the truck, but would GM live up to its promise?

Within the very first year of purchasing the truck, Mr. Rodriguez began experiencing serious problems with General Motors’ flagship truck. Intermittently and without warning, many of the warning lights on the dashboard would light up, including (but not limited to):

  • Failure of the speedometer and odometer
  • Service power steering
  • The StabiliTrak warning light
  • Service 4×4 warning lights

At the same time, the steering would become substantially less responsive.

Mr. Rodriguez immediately returned to GM and reported the issue. Unfortunately, GM took no action other than scanning for error codes and returned the car to Mr. Rodriguez. To be expected, due to GM’s lack of repair, the problems came back and back again. In addition, Mr. Rodriguez began experiencing an activation of the Check Engine Light (CEL) and substantial loss of engine power at freeway speeds, RECALL of the airbag system for failure to deploy.

Over the next two and a half years, Mr. Rodriguez took the truck in for repair no less than six (6) separate occasions. GM failed to repair the truck despite the six different repair opportunities. Due to the ongoing problems and GM’s failure to find and fix the issues, Mr. Rodriguez requested GM refund his money pursuant to California’s lemon law. GM said No!

1. Client Description:

Mr. Rodriguez is very hard-working and saved his money to purchase what he thought was a reliable truck to get him back and forth to work. More important was the warranty, that he believed GM would stand behind if he experienced any problems.

2. Client Challenges:

Despite having paid close to $75,000 for his truck, the truck immediately exhibited serious defects affecting Mr. Rodriguez’s safety. During his initial years of ownership, Mr. Rodriguez took the truck in for repairs no less than six (6) separate occasions due to ongoing issues. GM failed to repair the truck despite the six different repair opportunities.

  • Facts of the case:
    • Lower’s court decision – There was none.
    • What Happened Factually and Procedurally:

The argument and the identity of the defendant and plaintiff. Plaintiff = Mr. Rodriguez. Defendant = General Motors, LLC (GM)

Once Mr. Rodriguez hired Cline, APC, we immediately began fighting for Mr. Rodriguez to secure a full refund of any money he spent on, or for, the truck. This included, but not limited to, Cline, APC conducting substantial pre-trial discovery on GM. Due to Cline, APC’s continued and unrelenting efforts, GM agreed to settle the matter on Mr. Rodriguez’ terms.

  • Judgment:

There was no judgment. In this case, GM agreed to settle the matter, refunding Mr. Rodriguez’ entire purchase price, plus additional money representing punitive damages, otherwise known as a civil penalty. GM took back its defective truck.

  • Issues:

The main issue of this case was two-fold:

  1. Did Mr. Rodriguez’ truck have a defect, covered by GM’s warranty, which substantially impaired the use, value, or safety to a reasonable person in Mr. Rodriguez’ situation?
  2. Did Mr. Rodriguez give GM, through its authorized repair facility, a reasonable opportunity to repair the truck?

Here, the problems which Mr. Rodriguez experienced were always covered by the terms of the express written warranty. The problems shut down the dashboard and steering mechanism, preventing Mr. Rodriguez from knowing how fast he was traveling and negatively affecting the steering capabilities of the truck. Certainly a defect which was a substantial impairment to the safety of Mr. Rodriguez, or anyone else for that matter.

In addition, Mr. Rodriguez gave GM time after time to “find and fix” the defect, which GM was unable to do so after 2 and 1⁄2 years, and no less than six (6) repair attempts. Clearly, this truck was a lemon!

The final issue turned on whether GM “willfully” refused to buy-back the truck prior to Cline, APC stepping in to help. Here, Mr. Rodriguez respectfully requested help with his truck prior to ever hiring Cline, APC. In response, GM unequivocally said no. For this, GM paid punitive damages, otherwise known as a civil penalty in California’s lemon law.

3. Procedural History:

Cline, APC opened the case with allegations of violations of the California lemon law. Within the Court process, Cline, APC secured an excellent result for Mr. Rodriguez, including a full refund and punitive damages, and a return of the defective truck.

4. Decision: (Judgement of Court)

This matter was settled prior to trial.

5. Reason:

Cline, APC presented a well-reasoned argument at mediation, with overwhelming evidence.

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