Press Releases

Federal Judge Certifies Massive Class Action Lawsuit Against General Motors in Transmission Defect Case

Cohen Milstein

March 20, 2023

Plaintiffs in 26 States Claim General Motors Was Aware of Transmission Defect That Poses Safety Risk to Drivers and Passengers

More than 800,000 Owners of 8-Speed Automatic Transmission Cars Manufactured Between 2015 and March 1, 2019 Are Covered by Certified Classes

DETROIT, Mich. – United States District Judge, for the Eastern District of Michigan, David M. Lawson, granted class certification today to plaintiffs in a massive class action lawsuit across 26 states against General Motors (GM) that alleges the car manufacturer violated state consumer protection statutes by knowingly putting cars with faulty transmissions on the road, endangering drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

The class is composed of owners of General Motors vehicles with one of two models of eight-speed automatic transmissions, the GM 8L90 or 8L45, which were manufactured between 2015 and March 1, 2019. Plaintiffs claim that while attempting to accelerate or decelerate their cars they may feel a hesitation, lurch, lunge, or other type of “harsh shift.” Some drivers reported the gear shifting as so violent that it feels as if they were hit by another vehicle. Internal company documents obtained in litigation show that even GM had determined the “startling effect” of the harsh shifts can create a safety issue. The vehicles also suffer from a second transmission defect, a shaking or “shudder” while traveling at highway speeds.

“General Motors knowingly sold over 800,000 8-speed transmission vehicles which they knew to be defective for years, and yet made the business decision not to tell its customers before purchase. Dealers were directed to tell the customers that harsh shifts were ‘normal or ‘characteristic.’ Such decision making is both highly irresponsible and emblematic of what GM believes it can get away with. We are very pleased that Judge Lawson’s order is another step closer to bringing justice to the hundreds of thousands of GM customers who were harmed by GMs misconduct”, said Ted Leopold, partner at Cohen Milstein and court-appointed Lead Counsel for the class. “As our lawsuit continues, now certified as a class action, we look forward to demonstrating that General Motors knew before the first car left GMs manufacturing facilities that their 8-speed transmissions were defective yet continuously made the business decision to still sell their cars knowing full well of the vehicle defects and safety concerns.”

In fact, GM contends that the question of what it “concealed” to customers cannot be resolved on a class-wide basis because “public knowledge about the defect varied throughout the relevant class period.” However, in the class certification order Judge Lawson observed that GM’s argument was “disingenuous considering the defendant’s recent efforts to conceal from public disclosure vast portions of the record offered by the plaintiffs to show the existence of the defect and the defendant’s historical knowledge of the same.”

The states certified include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

A second action regarding GM vehicles with 8L transmissions is also underway in Battle v. General Motors, LLC, 2:22-cv-108783. That case features 8L vehicles with harsh shifts made after March 1, 2019 (MY19 to MY22), when GM replaced the automatic transmission fluid that caused the shudder problem.

The plaintiffs are also represented by Theodore J. Leopold, Doug McNamara and Karina Puttieva, of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, Russell D. Paul of Berger Montague PC, Melissa L. Troutner of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP, Tarek Zohdy of Capstone Law APC, E. Powell Miller of The Miller Law Firm, Steven Calamusa of Gordon & Partners PA and Gretchen Freeman Cappio of Keller Rohrback L.L. P.


About Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC is a premier U.S. plaintiffs’ law firm, handling high-profile and often precedent-setting litigation, including consumer protection and product liability litigation. With over 100 attorneys across the country, Cohen Milstein has offices in Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, Minneapolis, MN, New York, NY, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Philadelphia, PA, Raleigh, NC, Washington, DC.  For additional information please call (202) 408-4600.