A case against the automaker General Motors was first settled and then refiled after it was revealed that GM had chosen not to report the ignition switch defect to the public for more than 10 years. This was claimed to have been fraudulent concealment.
In this particular Georgia case, the parents of a 29-year-old woman, Brooke Melton, refiled a lawsuit against General Motors because new facts were revealed that related to the automaker’s knowledge that long predated the settlement. She was killed in a GM car in 2010 when the ignition switch on her Chevrolet Cobalt failed and caused the crash that tragically ended her life. General Motors and the family of Melton settled her wrongful-death action last year.
After the refiled lawsuit was put in place, GM moved to dismiss the case by motion. The Georgia judge presiding denied the motion. In fact, the presiding judge ordered that General Motors begin the discovery process by producing written materials and documents that had been requested by the Melton family attorneys. In addition, General Motors will be subject to written discovery by depositions to be taken of GM personnel as the case moves along.
The attorney for the Melton family, Lance Cooper, stated that it was likely that he would be looking to take the deposition of Michael P. Millikin, GM’s general counsel, as well as other General Motor employees and staff at Delphi, the supplier of the ignition switch.
In the Melton case, the family’s attorney began handling the case in 2011 and hired an engineer to find out why the engine in her 2005 Cobalt had suddenly shut down. The engineering expert found out that there was a difference between the ignition switch installed in her car and a $30 replacement ignition switch that he had bought from a dealership. It was found that the force required to turn the newer ignition on and off was greater.
In April 2013, attorney Cooper asked Raymond DeGiorgio, the GM engineer responsible for the ignition switch for the Cobalt, about the differences between the switch in Melton’s car and the new ignition switch that the engineer had purchased from a GM dealer. In a deposition, DeGiorgio stated under oath that he was not familiar with any change in the design of the ignition switch.
It was found that in fact DeGiorgio had actually signed off on an upgrade to the switch in 2006 for this particular model. DeGiorgio had not reported the change with the new part number, however. That bit of testimony under oath by the GM engineer was not particularly helpful for General Motors in its attempt to defend this case and the other deadly ignition defect cases that are coming to courts around the country. The Melton case is now pending.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling General Motors ignition switch defect cases, automotive defect cases, wrongful-death lawsuits, product defect cases, car accident cases and trucking accident cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Harvey, Alsip, Blue Island, Calumet Park, Evergreen Park, Burbank, Hickory Hills, Hoffman Estates, Palos Hills, Palos Heights, Chicago Ridge, Countryside, LaGrange, Riverside and Elmhurst, Ill.
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