GM Sued for Failing to Warn Cadillac Owners of Headlight Defects

(Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. failed to warn U.S. drivers of a Cadillac sport-utility vehicle about a defect that causes headlights to malfunction because moisture gets inside the glass, creating a safety hazard for more than 300,000 of the cars, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Detroit.

Three plaintiffs in the federal suit are seeking class-action status, which would allow them to pursue claims on behalf of anyone who bought or leased Cadillac SRXs for model years 2010 to 2015. Exterior seals on the headlights erode prematurely, allowing moisture in and causing light beams to dim or fail, they said in the court filing.

GM was aware of the faulty design -- issuing bulletins to dealers about it -- but never notified vehicle owners or lessees and didn’t warn future drivers or change advertising to address the issue, according to the lawsuit. Rather than upgrade to better components, the company simply replaced faulty equipment with parts of the same design, the plaintiffs said. Some SRX owners said they are afraid to drive their cars at night.

The vehicles “present a safety hazard and constitute a danger to consumers,” the plaintiffs said. “The headlight defect can result in very dim light output or no light at all. Such malfunctions will necessarily result in low visibility at best, which can contribute to injurious, or even fatal, traffic accidents.”

A spokesman for GM didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The lawsuit marks the latest headache for GM involving claims of faulty components. The company has been grappling for years with complaints about defective ignition switches that were linked to at least 124 deaths and recalls of more than 2 million vehicles.

GM agreed to pay more than $2 billion to resolve claims over the switches, including $900 million to end a criminal probe by the U.S. government and at least $595 million through a victims’ compensation fund. The company has paid out millions more in settlements with individual plaintiffs and their families over deaths and injuries.

In 2017, GM extended the warranty on thousands of older cars and SUVs after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started probing complaints about low-beam headlight failures in more than a half-dozen of the company’s cars, which didn’t involve any Cadillac models.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages and restitution, as well as a court order forcing the company to recall the vehicles in question and inform owners and lessors about the defective headlights and the need for periodic maintenance.

The case is Robin LaTorre v General Motors LLC, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan.

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