Tuesday, March 3, 2015 - A large group of plaintiffs who filed lawsuits against Cadillac for misrepresenting the safety ratings of its 2014 CTS model sedans are seeking class certification. The current multi-state class action covers 30 states and the District of Columbia. Four classes, made up of thousands of claimants, have appealed to a Florida federal judge to combine the lawsuits into multidistrict litigation.
The lawsuits originated from an informational sticker called the Monroney sticker that must be affixed to new vehicles pursuant to federal law. This sticker has official information about vehicles for customers to look over, including figures such as gas mileage, vehicle features, and safety ratings. The Monroney sticker on 2014 Cadillac CTS sedans stated that the vehicle received five-star ratings in the rollover, frontal crash driver and frontal crash passenger categories.
The plaintiffs claim that not only did the CTS fail to receive five-star ratings in these categories, but that the 5-star rating had been falsely posted to the vehicles purchased by claimants before many of them had been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Still, the ratings were attached to the vehicles and the results named the NHTSA as the source of the figures.
The proper protocol for the stickers if no testing information was available at the time was to indicate the absence of the required data on the sticker. Instead, the plaintiffs claim that General Motors elected to display the misleading ratings and later notify customers of the oversight regarding the misrepresentation of the NHTSA score. Customers received letters from GM informing them of the error in May of 2014, months after they purchased the vehicles.
The allegations brought against Cadillac manufacturer General Motors claim that the false information was intentionally printed on the Monroney stickers to overstate the safety qualifications of the vehicles in order to increase sales. By doing this, the defendants breached the warranty agreed to at the time of purchase and were also guilty of misleading customers by influencing them to purchase the vehicles while advertising false safety ratings in violation of federal laws.
The group of plaintiffs seeking consolidation are bringing cases from Florida and Tennessee, as well as nationwide unjust enrichment and breach of express warranty classes. The plaintiffs claim that the court will be able to use common questions of law in dealing with all of the defined cases, and that all of the qualifications for a possible transfer have been satisfied. The allegations that are listed in the state lawsuits reference Florida‘s unfair trade law and Tennessee‘s consumer protection law. There are more than 11,000 plaintiffs combined among the four classes seeking multidistrict litigation.
A spokesman for GM claimed that the misrepresentation of the safety ratings on their vehicles were a mistake and not an intentional plan to mislead customers. The spokesman added that the error was spotted early in the model year, which was followed up with the updated version of the crash data sent to customers, and that the crash data eventually would up matching the original specifications reported.
The case for consolidation will be heard before a Florida federal judge.