Old brand, new carmaker

A lawsuit against GM has the forward-thinking automaker looking to the past

Old brand, new carmaker

Mark Elias/Bloomberg/Getty Images; TD Economics

General Motors may be able to trace its roots back to 1908, but in court it is trying hard to forget its past. The automaker, which went through bankruptcy in 2009, is being sued in U.S. District Court over alleged suspension problems for more than 400,000 Chevy Impalas from 2007 and 2008. Plaintiff Donna Trusky contends the rear spindle rods are faulty, resulting in premature rear tire wear.

However, GM’s lawyer, Benjamin Jeffers, wants the case rejected for a simple reason: she’s suing the wrong firm. “There are no specific factual allegations that New GM—as opposed to Old GM—did anything at all in relation to her vehicle,” he wrote in a recent filing, referring to the new firm that emerged from bankruptcy. “Plaintiff here is trying to saddle New GM with the alleged liability and conduct of Old GM.” He goes on to say, “New GM did not assume responsibility for Old GM’s design choices, conduct or alleged breaches of liability under the warranty.” In essence, the firm says the suit should be directed at Old GM because it’s their design flaw, not a warranty issue that New GM would cover. Experts believe GM could prevail. In January, a judge ruled for the firm in a case involving a pre-2009 OnStar system.

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