A Lowndes County, Alabama, jury assessed $150 million in punitive damages against the General Motors Corporation on Monday, June 3, 1996, for selling vehicles with dangerously defective door latches. Alex Hardy, 35, has been a paraplegic since his Chevrolet Blazer went out of control on U.S 80 in 1991. His lawsuit contended he was thrown out of the vehicle as a result of a faulty door latch.
Approximately 112 people have been killed or injured when the “type III” door latches on GM vehicles failed, resulting in occupants being ejected from the vehicles.
GM’s own engineers reported in the 1980s that the performance of the type III door latch was a “problem,” “substandard,” and “unacceptable,” and that the door latch even failed GM’s own crash tests. A 1982 study by a GM engineer concluded that there would be 18,000 door openings each year in wrecks involving GM vehicles equipped with type III door latches.
GM considered and rejected a recall, and the documents indicate that it destroyed its entire inventory of type III door latches. GM deliberately chose not to recall and fix the defective door latches because company documents reveal that GM thought a recall would cost too much, about $916 million. GM routinely settled defective door latch cases until 1994.
Mitsubishi was also found guilty of concealing evidence about its knowledge of door latch failures in its vehicles. The trial court found Mitsubishi’s concealment of evidence “deliberate and intentional” and labeled their conduct as a “fraudulent use of the judicial system. Additionally, it has been alleged that certain Ford vehicles are not compliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
The allegation focuses on the vehicles having a defective door latch, which may open in the event of an accident, with the potential for catastrophic results. It is further alleged that Ford knew of this defect but has not initiated a recall. It is estimated that there are over 3,000,000 vehicles with this known problem.
Legal Help For Victims Affected By Defective Door Latches
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective door latch, please fill out the form at the right for a free case evaluation by a qualified product liability attorney or call us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).