GM sued for €856 million in Canada

Car giant General Motors has been sued for negligence in Canada for producing vehicles from 1995 to 2003 with an allegedly defective part that caused engines to overheat and seize.

The lawsuit could cover as many as 400,000 GM car owners in Canada, and with each owner claiming CAD $3,000 (€2,142) in damages, the claims may total CAD $1,200 million (€857 million) , Colin Stevenson, partner at Toronto-based Stevensons LLP, said in a statement today. The suit was filed in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto.

GM used nylon or other plastics in the intake manifold gasket (IMG), which seals the cylinder head and engine block to the intake manifold, a part that channels an air-fuel mixture to the engine, the claim said. The seal degrades prematurely, causing coolant to leak into the engine, according to the claim against Detroit-based GM.

“In some cases the engines overheat and seize completely,” Stevenson said in the statement. “The vehicles often need complete engine replacements at considerable expense to the owners.”

GM introduced a new gasket in 2004, Stevenson said. The company refuses to acknowledge that the earlier product was defective, he said.

A GM spokesperson said she needed to speak with the company’s lawyers before commenting on the suit.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers are seeking class-action status on behalf of car owners across Canada.

The suit cites 23 General Motors models as having the defective gasket, including the

Buick Park Avenue
, which was manufactured from 1995 to 1998 and from 2000 to 2003; the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, made from 1998 to 2003; and the Oldsmobile Alero, produced from 1999 to 2003.

The gaskets also are the subject of an Internet-based recall petition by GM customers and technicians who service GM vehicles.