The Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County has authorised that notices be issued to those people who bought certain new GM vehicles from Pennsylvania GM dealers.

The notices are a result of the court establishing or “certifying,” in October of 2001, a class action lawsuit against General Motors Corporation involving Pennsylvania car buyers and GM’s “Marketing Initiative” programmes. The case will proceed to a trial.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit alleges that GM violated the Pennsylvania Board of Vehicles Act by adding 1% of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) to the invoice of certain new vehicles that it sold to dealers, requiring that the additional 1% be used for advertising. The plaintiff alleges that the 1% charge was passed on to customers when they purchased their vehicles, and is asking for this amount to be paid back to all class members.

General Motors denies any wrongdoing, and contends that it only increased the wholesale price of its vehicles in the amount of 1% of the MSRP. General Motors further contends that the dealers did not necessarily pass on the charge to each purchaser.

A date has not yet been set for the trial.

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The lawsuit includes people, called a “Plaintiff Class,” who purchased at retail from a Pennsylvania GM dealer, a new vehicle that was made or distributed by the Chevrolet, GMC Truck, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Buick, or Pontiac divisions of GM. For a person to be included in the plaintiff class, the dealer from whom the new vehicle was bought must have purchased the new vehicle from GM or any of its divisions on or before March 31, 1999, but after September 1, 1998 for Chevrolet or GMC Truck vehicles; July 1, 1989 for Cadillac or Oldsmobile vehicles; July 1, 1990 for Pontiac vehicles; and August 1, 1990 for Buick vehicles.

The plaintiff class does not include GM employees who purchased vehicles under an employee purchase plan, GM qualified fleet purchasers, government entities, or lawyers involved in the case.

Class members will not be charged for lawyers’ services. Instead, if class counsel obtain a recovery for the class, they may apply to the Court for payment of their reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs by GM or from funds recovered for the class before distribution of the net proceeds to the class members.