General Motors was served with a new class action lawsuit at the end of October. The company is accused of misleading customers on the performance capabilities of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 models of the Corvette Z06. This latest suit comes not long after a May 2017 suit claiming GM cheated on diesel emissions tests for its heavy duty pickup trucks and the $120 million settlement in October 2017 of a multi-year ignition switch controversy that resulted in nearly 400 injuries and deaths.
The lawsuit, filed in Illinois on October 30, claims the Corvette models were marketed as “conceived on the track” and equipped with “track-proven structure and technologies.” Instead of a high-performing race car, customers complain that the car was unreliable and unsafe to drive in race conditions. After only fifteen minutes, the cooling system would overheat and cause the car to rapidly lose speed and power, a condition known as “limp mode.” The sudden loss of speed created a dangerous situation on the racetrack full of other high-speed cars. Plaintiffs alleged that limp mode occurred not only in race conditions, but also on public highways. The excessive heat caused the engine to warp, forcing customers to pay for costly repairs.
Plaintiffs Peter Jankovskis and Jonathan White claim they would not have purchased the car or would have paid significantly less if they were aware of the defect. GM was aware of the cooling system issues before many of the plaintiffs purchased their vehicles. They are accused of refusing to tell the public and knowingly concealing the cooling system defects while continuing to advertise the car as “track-ready.”
Complaints of the Corvette performance issue is well documented in Z06 forums and GM customer service files, according to the suit. In February of 2015, the Corvette Chief Engineer, Tadge Juechter, responded to customer complaints on a Z06 internet forum. He acknowledged the issue and stated the addition of more cooling hardware would add to the mass of the car and potentially impact the appearance and aerodynamic drag. “Like most aspects of car design,” he wrote, “the challenge is in finding the best balance of conflicting requirements.”
In 2016, GM temporarily halted production of the cars to address the defect. General Motors decided that the 2017 model would come equipped with a new hood containing larger vents and a new supercharger cover. Despite these improvements and claims by GM that the problem had been fixed, the 2017 models continued to overheat. GM responded by warning owners after purchase that cars with automatic transmissions had the potential to overheat. Owners of the 2015 and 2016 models were offered no compensation or retrofit option.
The suit of more than 100 members from across the country, including Delaware, New Jersey, and Illinois, is asking for a total of $5,000,000. The plaintiffs assert that GM must fulfill its warranty obligations and retrofit the cars to ensure they perform as advertised. The cars in question were purchased for between $80,000 and $120,000.
The Corvette Z06 Overheating Class Action Lawsuit is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and is entitled Jankovskis, et al. v. General Motors LLC, Case No. 1:17-cv-07822.
Peter Jankovskis and Jonathan White are represented by Steve Berman, Shelby Smith and Elizabeth Fegan of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP – Stuart Grossman and Rachel Furst of Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen – Jason Weisser of Schuler Halvorsen Weisser Zoller & Overbeck.
If you feel like you might be a potential class member and have questions please contact: