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A class-action lawsuit seeking $750 million in damages on behalf of 215 Canadian General Motors dealers was launched Thursday in the Ontario Court of Justice.

The suit claims General Motors of Canada Ltd. breached franchise laws when it terminated dealers in connection with last year's government bailout of the auto industry.

The suit also names a Canadian law firm, which had been retained in advance to represent dealers in a GM restructuring or bankruptcy, alleging the firm failed to disclose it was also acting for the Canadian government, which had insisted GM scale back its dealership network as a condition for public funding.

"These dealers include some of the best in the country," said David Sterns, lawyer for the lead plaintiff. "The offer they were handed gave them a fraction of what their businesses were worth, but they had no collective representation and precious little time."