Court Issues Decision Allowing Certain Of Plaintiffs’ Claims To Proceed In Saturn Litigation

November 17th, 2008

Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP (“SFMS”) is pleased to announce that on November 7, 2008, the Honorable Laurie Smith Camp of the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska issued a decision on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, which granted Defendants’ Motion in part and denied it in part. Defendants were seeking to dismiss certain claims from Plaintiffs’ Consolidated Amended Complaint (“Amended Complaint”). The Amended Complaint alleges that certain Saturn L-Series Vehicles are equipped with a timing chain that fails due to an allegedly defective design. The Vehicles include, model year 2000-2003 Saturn L-Series; model year 2002-2003 Saturn Vue; or model year 2003 Saturn Ion, each equipped with a 2.2 Liter, 4-cylinder, 137 horsepower dual-overhead-cam, Ecotec L61 Engine and a GM production part number 90537338 timing chain and a GM production part number 90537476 timing chain oiling nozzle in certain states, and whose timing chain has failed.

As a result of Judge Camp’s Opinion and Order, the claims against Defendants for breach of implied warranty will proceed. The Court found that Plaintiffs alleged sufficient facts to support their contention that Defendants knew there were defects in the design of their steel timing chains and oiling nozzles and that Defendants deceptively concealed that information from Plaintiffs. Accordingly, the Court held that Plaintiffs’ claims for breach of implied warranty are not barred by any statute of limitations, as Defendants had argued in their Motion. The Court also denied Defendants’ Motion, which sought to dismiss claims by certain Plaintiffs for breach of implied warranty of merchantability, finding that Plaintiffs adequately pled that the vehicles at issue were not fit for their ordinary purpose (or unmerchantable) under the laws of various states. With respect to Plaintiffs’ consumer protection claims, the Court upheld Plaintiffs’ claim pursuant to the North Carolina Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practices Act, finding that the claim was not barred by the economic loss doctrine. The Court further upheld the claim pursuant to California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act (finding that Plaintiffs adequately pled a fraudulent omission), but denied the claim pursuant to California’s Unfair Competition law. The Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims for injunctive relief under the Nebraska Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, but denied the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the claim under the Nebraska Consumer Protection Act, finding that Plaintiffs alleged sufficient facts to establish their claims that Defendants’ unfair or deceptive acts had an impact on the public interest. With respect to the claims that were upheld, the Defendants must respond to Plaintiffs’ Consolidated Amended Complaint on or before December 1, 2008.

SFMS congratulates Douglas Dehler, James Miller, James Shah, Nathan Zipperian, and Laurie Rubinow on this decision and for their excellent work in this matter.