January 20th, 2017
The Automobile Protection Association has discontinued its class action against General Motors. Vermette and APA vs GM was filed in 2004 (we joined formally in 2005) to obtain compensation for owners of 1997-2004 Venture, Trans Sport, Montana and Silhouette minivans. The APA wanted a warranty extension from GM and compensation to owners for the loss of value or utility of the vans that we believed corroded prematurely.
The case was a tough, long grind. Our request to have the case authorized was rejected by the original judge in 2007. We won on appeal in 2008. GM tried to appeal the authorization to the Supreme Court of Canada, but they declined to hear the case in 2009. Subsequently, General Motors deposed some consumers who had filed complaints to the APA or its lawyers. This was unusual in a class action where most claimants expect minimal involvement. The exercise revealed that some claimants had never filed a claim directly with GM.
During the discovery process, we learned that GM repaired many vehicles in the Province of Quebec; the APA estimates that GM spent several million dollars to replace roof panels on minivans. The APA was unaware of the extent of the steps GM had taken to resolve customer complaints. GM refused further compensation as they felt they had met their warranty obligations.
Although many members of the class received substantial assistance, claims occurring before the case was filed, and claims by second owners did not fare well. The APA asked GM for some money on the table or perhaps a coupon or other non-monetary compensation toward a vehicle purchase or maintenance for this group, but their position remained consistent: GM had done what it had to do.
Our lawyers were confident we could prove the vans were defective, but were concerned that damages would be difficult to prove, in light of the many other factors that affected the resale value of these vehicles, and the time elapsed since the case was filed. A general amount for excess depreciation likely wouldn’t work with the way the law currently stands in Quebec.
The outcome was more positive than negative, but it was not one the APA expected. In view of the time elapsed since the case was filed and GM’s very robust defense strategy, the case has been discontinued. Along the way, many consumers received substantial compensation. Based on the APA’s experience in this and other class actions over vehicle defects, automakers are much more inclined to settle when they are already offering a settlement for similar cases filed in the United States. The Notice to Members approved by the Court follows:
NOTICE TO MEMBERS OF
THE CLASS ACTION INSTITUTED BY STEPHANE
VERMETTE AND THE AUTOMOBLE PROTECTION
ASSOCIATION AGAINST GENERAL MOTORS OF
(Superior Court No. 500-06-000261-046)
The above-mentioned class action was authorized by the Court of Appeal on September 26, 2008 with respect to the following class:
"All physical persons residing in Quebec and all legal persons established for a private interest, companies or associations residing in Quebec and counting, at all times during the 12 months preceding the instant application for authorization, under their management or control, at most 50 persons bound to them by an employment contract, who purchased or rented a 1997 to 2004 Chevrolet Venture model, or a 1997 to 2004 Pontiac Trans Sport/Montana model, or a 1998 to 2004 Oldsmobile Silhouette model, which are or have been the object of rust or paint chipping."
However, be advised that the Superior Court, on November 22, 2016, authorized Plaintiffs to discontinue said class action.
By reason of the discontinuance authorized by the Superior Court on November 22, 2016, the suspensive effects of Article 2908 of the Civil Code of Quebec have ceased and prescription has started to run again. Please take this change into account if you wish to institute individual court proceedings against the Defendant General Motors of Canada Company concerning the corrosion and/or paint chipping problems on the Chevrolet Venture model of the years 1997-2004, the Pontiac Trans Sport or Montana model of the years 1997-2004 or the Oldsmobile Silhouette model of the years 1998-2004, which has had or is having.