Press Releases

Second Class Action Filed Against General Motors for Defective Transmissions

Cohen Milstein

April 17, 2024

Plaintiffs in Ten States Claim GM Was Aware of Transmission Defects That Pose Safety Risk to Drivers and Passengers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, purchasers of new and used GM vehicles manufactured between 2015 – 2019 equipped with GM’s 8-speed transmission filed a product defect and consumer protection class action against GM for an alleged defective transmission design of GM’s Hydra-Matic 8L90 transmission or Hydra-Matic 8L45 transmission, which causes vehicles to suddenly lurch forward, shudder, and experience significant delays in acceleration. The action, Ulrich, et al. v. General Motors, et al., No. 2:24-cv-11007, was filed before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

This class action includes ten states and causes of action that were not part of Speerly, et al, v. General Motors, LLC (E.D. Mich.), a class action which was certified as a class on March 20, 2023.

Among other things, plaintiffs in this expanded class action claim that GM not only knew about this pervasive issue but developed a fix for it in 2018 – namely a transmission flush it calls Mod1a. However, GM made the business decision in 2019 to forgo recalling all impacted vehicles (approximately 2 million) to receive this flush, which would have cost GM about $305 per vehicle for a total $592 million, and instead decided to limit the flush to only unsold Cadillacs and trucks in certain states where it expected customers to complain within their warranty. Finally, plaintiffs claim that GM never alerted existing customers of the issue or the fix and only addressed the issue if the customer was under warranty and complained about the shudder.

“GM has breached the trust of millions of Americans by selling defective 8-speed transmission vehicles which they knew to be defective for years, putting profit first and safety last,” said Ted Leopold, partner at Cohen Milstein and court-appointed Lead Counsel for the class. “GM marketed and sold these 8-speed automatic transmission vehicles as having “world-class performance,” lightning-fast and smooth shifting, along with improved fuel efficiency, and instead sold defective vehicles.”

Plaintiffs claimed that the sudden lurching, sudden and/or delayed acceleration, and shuddering presented safety hazards because they would severely affect the driver’s ability to control the car’s speed, acceleration, and deceleration. As an example, these conditions would make it difficult to safely merge into traffic or back out of a garage or driveway. Drivers also reported sudden lurching into intersections when attempting to gradually accelerate from a stopped position and other dangerous driving conditions. Even more troubling, the transmission defects would cause the vehicle to delay downshifting and decelerating when the brakes are depressed.

“GM made poor design choices. It knew of the transmission problems before ever selling the vehicles but hid what it knew – even the solutions to the problems,” stated Doug McNamara, a partner at Cohen Milstein. “Customers who could have benefitted from the Mod1a flush years ago continued to drive with a poorly performing transmission fluid. Now out of warranty, some customers have had to pay for transmission repairs.”

The affected vehicles include Chevrolet Silverado (2015-2019); Chevrolet Colorado (2017-2019); the Chevrolet Corvette (2015-2019); the Chevrolet Camaro (2016-2019); the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV (2015-2019); the Cadillac ATS, ATS-V, CTS, CT6, and CTS-V (2016-2019); the GMC Sierra, Yukon, and Yukon XL, and Yukon Denali XL (2015-2019); and the GMC Canyon (2017-2019).

The 10 states in Ulrich, et al. v. General Motors, et al. include California, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, and South Dakota.

The 26 states in Speerly, et al, v. General Motors, the certified class action, 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.

The plaintiffs are represented by Theodore J. Leopold, Douglas J. McNamara, Karina G. Puttieva, and Madelyn N. Petersen of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll; Robert Gordon, Steven Calamusa, Geoff Stahl, and Rachel Bentley of Gordon & Partners PA; Russell D. Paul and Amy J. Park of Berger Montague PC; Tarek H. Zohdy, Cody R. Padgett, and Laura E. Goolsby of Capstone Law APC; E. Powell Miller, Sharon S. Almonrode, Brian M. Saxe, Emily E. Hughes, and Dennis A. Lienhardt of The Miller Law Firm; Joseph H. Meltzer, Melissa L. Yeates, Lisa M. Port, Tyler S. Graden, Jordan E. Jacobson, and James A. Maro of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP;  Lynn Lincoln Sarko, Gretchen Freeman Cappio, and Ryan McDevitt of Keller Rohrback L.L. P.; and Michael L. Pitt and Beth Rivers of Pitt McGehee Palmer and Rivers.

In addition to Ulrich, et al. v. General Motors, et al., Cohen Milstein and plaintiffs’ counsel continue their litigation in Speerly, et al, v. General Motors, LLC, which was certified as a class action on March 20, 2023. GM quickly appealed that ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Plaintiffs will be filing their opposition brief to the appeal shortly.


About Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, a premier U.S. plaintiffs’ law firm, with over 100 attorneys across eight offices, champions the causes of real people – workers, consumers, small business owners, investors, and whistleblowers – working to deliver corporate reforms and fair markets for the common good.