GM Pumps the Brakes on its Sunroof Lawsuit

Kelley Gaines is back in California’s Southern District Court for another opportunity to sue General Motors Company (GM) over an alleged warranty violation caused by a leaking sunroof in her leased Cadillac. A judge previously dismissed portions of her previous lawsuit, however Gaines restated her previous claims in a newer court filing, of which GM claims is not worth the court’s time. Gaines’ original complaint was filed in July 2017.

According to a recent GM court filing, all of Gaines allegations against the vehicle manufacturer are baseless, as GM stated several reasons why this lawsuit should be dismissed.

“GM is in opposition to Gaines’ Ex Parte Motion for Leave To File the Proposed Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) on the ground that the proposed SAC fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and that the motion therefore should be denied on grounds of futility of amendment,” a portion of the court document reads.

Gaines’ original complaint, claims GM was aware of the leaks in her leased 2010 Cadillac SRX. She said the leaks were “caused by either a void in the cowl seam sealer in the corners below the sunroof drain hose grommets, or the sunroof drain hose grommet(s) may not be connected or fully sealed in the cowl panel or at the sunroof frame spigot, or the sunroof front drain hoses are mis-routed or are too shot, and display a higher level of tension [that] may tend to cause a future disconnect or unseating of the grommet(s).”

GM however, maintains Gaines’ defective sunroof couldn’t have been covered by her four-year, 50,000 mile warranty because it didn’t start leaking until three years after the warranty’s expiration, and is therefore no longer a valid base for a lawsuit. In her amended complaint she stated others were allegedly affected by the defect and had to pay for repairs while their vehicles were under GM’s warranty. However she was unable to prove that claim, according to GM’s filed memorandum.

That wasn’t the only claim Gaines made, as she also accused GM of insufficient floorboards that caused mold to form on her floors from her leaking sunroof. Which she also claimed could lead to unsafe vehicle air quality, according to court documents. This was not supported in court, as her Cadillac was not found to have the alleged mold issue.

GM also combats claims that suggest the company knew about the alleged defect.

“… the Court observed that the First Amended Complaint did not “allege any facts plausibly suggesting GM knew about the Leaking Sunroof Defect before [plaintiff] bought her car” in May 2010 and that “the earliest event suggesting GM might have known about some widespread problem with sunroof leaks was its issuance of [a] bulletin in 2013,” a portion of GM’s memorandum reads.

GM’s three reasons of why Gaines’ second amended complaints should be denied include:

  • The implied warranty of merchantability created by the Song-Beverly Act does not by its express terms require GM to expand its express warranty coverage or provide free repairs after the warranty has expired. Instead, goods to be merchantable need only “pass without objection in the trade” and be “fit for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used.”
  • There can be no dispute that plaintiff’s vehicle was merchantable at the time of delivery as it was driven for nearly seven years thereafter without any issues. Her claim fails because the implied warranty of merchantability does not guarantee perfection, let alone in perpetuity.  Instead, it merely warrants “a minimum level of quality.”
  • Her complaint is barred by the four-year statute of limitations of section 2725 of the California Commercial Code that applies equally to her implied warranty claim.

GM maintains, Gaines’ case claimed that GM breached the express warranty by not providing free-of-charge repairs three years after the warranty had expired and by not including her SRX in a voluntary customer satisfaction program that GM offered in other states. Currently GM’s filed report aims to dismiss Gaines’ additional acquisitions and prevent this case from going any farther.

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