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General Motors Hid Use of Emissions Defeat Devices Securities Class Action

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Silverado 2500 HD Truck

It was a sad day for car lovers when Volkswagen, and then other renowned German automakers, were exposed for using emissions defeat devices in their vehicles. Now American automaker General Motors (GM) is accused of doing the same. This securities class action holds the company responsible for concealing its wrongdoing, in violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and for stock losses sustained when the news emerged.

The class for this action is all persons and entities who acquired the publicly-traded securities of GM from February 27, 2012 through May 25, 2017.

On February 27, 2012, Gm filed a Form 10-K 2011 annual report. The complaint quotes a section on compliance that includes this statement: “We believe that our vehicles meet the current EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] and CARB [California Air Resources Board] requirements.” That statement was repeated in the company’s Form 10-K 2013 annual report.

Subsequent annual reports for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 had sections on emission control that indicated that the company was making honest attempts to keep up with laws and regulations.

  • “While we believe our products are currently incompliance… both agencies having ongoing ‘in use’ evaluations of compliance…. Testing is conducted at various times.”
  • “Emissions and OBD requirements become more stringent each year…. While we believe all our products are designed and manufactured in material compliance with vehicle emissions requirements, regulatory authorities may conduct ongoing evaluations of the emissions compliance of products….”

However, the complaint alleges that these statements were all false or misleading. According to the complaint, between 2011 and 2016, GM had installed three different defeat devices on over 700,000 trucks with diesel engines to beat emissions tests, allowing the trucks to emit up to five times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide pollutants.

The complaint claimed that the truth emerged on May 25, 2017, when Bloomberg reported on a class action filed that same day, alleging that GM had installed defeat devices in Sierra and Silverado models of heavy-duty trucks.

According to the article, the defeat devices allowed three things: the trucks produce higher emissions when temperatures are above the certification range (86 degrees); they produce higher emissions when temperatures are below the certification range (68 degrees); and they produce higher emissions when the truck has run at a steady speed for 200-500 seconds, on average by a factor of 4.5. In other words, the defeat devices allowed the trucks to pass emissions tests in the test temperature range while allowing them to emit two to five times the pollutants permitted at other times.

At the news, GM’s share price fell by nearly 2%.

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