General Motors Sued over Ignition Switch Defect
General Motors (GM) continues to face issues involving its ignition switch defect, which prompted the company to recall a total of 30 million vehicles worldwide in 2014. The faulty ignition switch, which can cause the engine to turn off without warning, was implicated in a reported 124 deaths. The company was severely criticized after evidence showed GM knew of the defect for at least a decade before recalling affected vehicles. GM continues to face ignition switch defect lawsuits.
Parker Waichman LLP has decades of experience representing clients in product liability lawsuits involving allegedly defective and dangerous products. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing an ignition switch defect lawsuit.
In September 2016, GM settled two bellwether cases involving defective ignition switches. Both ignition switch lawsuits were filed on behalf of plaintiffs who suffered injuries, allegedly because the ignition switch suddenly switched into the “off” position. One of the lawsuits was slated to start trial on Sept. 12. GM resolved the cases for undisclosed amounts.
The ignition switch multidistrict litigation (MDL) grew quickly in two short years. MDLs are created to make complex litigation more efficient, streamlining the legal process. Bellwether cases provide an opportunity for both parties to test their arguments out in court for the first time. The outcome of bellwether cases can influence the remaining litigation and facilitate settlement talks.
A total of three bellwether case have been settled before trial, USA Today reports.
At least two class action lawsuits have been filed over faulty ignition switches. One suit was filed in California federal court and the other was filed by a Pennsylvania man. In July 2014, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of 658 people alleging injuries or death from defective ignition switches. GM is also facing a lawsuit filed by the Orange County District Attorney, on behalf of the People of the State of California. The suit alleges that, by failing to disclose the ignition switch defect, GM engaged in unfair competition and false advertising. These actions are in violation of California law, the suit alleges.
Delphi Automotive, who manufactured the defective switches, has also been named in some lawsuits.
Ignition Switch Recall, Defect Linked to Deaths and Injuries
GM first recalled some 800,000 vehicles with faulty ignition switches in February 2014. In the months that followed, the recall was expanded to include 30 million cars worldwide. The company has compensated families for 124 deaths caused by faulty ignition switches. The problem is that the ignition key can inadvertently switch from the “run” position to the “accessory”, particularly when there is weight on the keys or a jarring event on the road. Subsequently, the engine is turned off and the driver loses access to features such as airbags.
In September 2015, GM agreed to a $900 million criminal settlement involving its faulty ignition switches. The company entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, and admitted that “from in or about the spring of 2012 through in or about February 2014, GM failed to disclose a deadly safety defect to its U.S. regulator… It also falsely represented to consumers that vehicles containing the defect posed no safety concern.”
A compensation fund of roughly $595 million was opened to compensate victims and families of people who died due to the ignition switch defect.
Recalled vehicles include: 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky vehicles.
GM has been scrutinized for how it handled the ignition switch issue. Internal investigations found that GM was aware of the defect since the early 2000s, but did not correct the problem until years later. Prior to the recall, the auto maker issued an advisory through dealers recommending that owners take everything off the car key to reduce the likelihood of the weight shutting down the engine. If the car unexpectedly shifts into accessory mode, the driver can lose control the vehicle, the air bags will fail to deploy in the event of an accident, and the power brakes will no longer work.
Due to the massive size of the recall and the fact that many cars are no longer with the original owner, GM had difficulty implementing the recall.
Filing a GM Ignition Switch Defect Lawsuit
If you or someone you know is interested in filing a GM ignition switch defect lawsuit, contact one of our product liability lawyers today. Parker Waichman offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).