A class action lawsuit against GM based on claims that some of The General’s vehicles contain defective airbags was greenlighted to go forward in California last Friday.
The lawsuit is the last remnant of a nationwide class action suit that was dismissed during the summer, according to an article on Car Complaints.
The original class action suit was filed in August 2021, claiming an airbag software defect in millions of 1999 and 2018 model-year GM trucks and SUVs could cause the safety feature to fail in a crash. Specifically, the defect allegedly involves shutoff times that prevent airbag deployment and seatbelt pre-tensioning, potentially leading to preventable injuries or deaths.
The original suit pointed to a defective Sensing and Diagnostic Module (SDM) as being at fault, with the module failing to activate the airbag and seatbelt pre-tensioning if the crash lasts for 45 milliseconds or longer, as in the case of a crash with several distinct impacts. The plaintiffs alleged that GM knew about the problem and failed to address it despite 800 or more complaints and “thousands” of alleged injuries or deaths directly caused by the problem.
The lawsuit involved 72 named plaintiffs, three of them located in California. It was dismissed without prejudice, refiled, and dismissed again this July when Judge Jon S. Tigar agreed with the automaker that the class action has no “plausible claim” because the software cutoff times for airbag deployment vary significantly between models and model years.
The last three plaintiffs, California residents James Milstead, Arthur Ray and Richard Vargas, refiled an amended class action suit, the third refiling in the lengthy legal wrangle. The General moved to dismiss this latest suit as well on the grounds that the same arguments were being recycled from the earlier, dismissed suits.
The judge denied the motion because the latest suit defines the defect in a different manner than the previous suits. Now, the plaintiffs say that the shutoff must be 100 milliseconds or longer to be “reasonably safe,” wording that includes a wide range of airbag software programming.
The lawsuit will now move forward for owners of allegedly affected vehicles in California only.