After settling a 2013 lawsuit over the death of their daughter, 29 at the time she died, her parents are now suing General Motors (GM) a second time. This time, over alleged perjury regarding a switch change in GM vehicle ignition switches.
The re-filed lawsuit accuses GM of fraud and of concealing evidence concerning the faulty ignition switches, which have been associated with a total of 13 deaths, to date, according to CNBC. The lawsuit appears to be the first filed since documents revealed that a GM engineer allegedly approved changing a switch part in GM vehicles, but who did not change the part number. A change in the part number would have informed GM and the maker of the switch, Delphi, according to CNBC.
The young woman’s death has not been included in the 13 that were directly tied to the GM switch recall as the switch defect disabling the front airbags was not considered in the circumstances of her crash, according to USA Today.
The attorney involved in the family’s lawsuit was on a recent conference call on the matter and alleged that GM knew about the switch part change and then lied about knowing, adding that he seeks to learn how may people within GM were aware of the alleged lie, CNBC wrote. The family’s lawyers also assert that the family has cause to re-file over admission by GM’s CEO, Mary Barra during Congressional testimony that a GM engineer might have lied during a deposition in the original lawsuit, according to USA Today.
In 2010, the couple’s daughter died when her 2005 Chevy Cobalt crashed with another car, careening off a Cobb County, Georgia road. The family sued GM over the crash in 2013 and soon after filing, settled for an undisclosed amount. The new lawsuit accuses GM of fraud, according to CNBC and USA Today.
This new lawsuit involves the deposition of Ray DeGiorgio, a GM engineer whose deposition from the first trial involved his being asked about changing an ignition switch part. Under oath, during that first trial, DeGiorgio said he never authorized changes to the switch, according to CNBC. Meanwhile, documents handed over to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Congress revealed that DeGiorgio had signed off the changing of a critical piece of the switch. The defect led to a problem in which the switches might slip into “accessory” mode, which may cause a loss of electronics, a loss of power steering, or a loss of airbag functionality.
The document was shown, by Capitol Hill senators, to GM’s CEO, Mary Barry, when she was testifying before Congress in early April 2014. Senator Claire McCaskill (Democrat-Missouri) sought to understand why Barra and GM never disciplined DeGiorgio and Gary Altman, another GM engineer. Both men worked on the ignition switches and, soon after the hearings, both were placed on paid leave, CNBC reported.
The couple asked GM to rescind its original settlement; however, GM refused, according to USA Today.
According to the couple’s attorney, they would not have settled the first case had they been aware of the perjury and evidence concealment. The attorney also believes that it was GM’s plan to resolve the claims brought in the first lawsuit prior to disclosing information on the Cobalt ignition switch design change. To date, GM has recalled over 2.6 million cars due to faulty ignition switches. The attorney intends on re-deposing all the GM executives questioned in the first lawsuit and may also depose Barra.