General Motors has been accused in the deaths of at least 13 individuals because of its deliberate concealment of a defect linked to the faulty ignition switch in more than 2.59 million vehicles. Some lawyers have revived lawsuits because of injuries or deaths as a result of the recalled GM vehicles. It has been reported that GM is concerned about punitive damages. In one case that was settled in September for $5 million, an adviser warned GM of a “substantial adverse verdict” if a jury learned about the fact that GM knew about the defect for almost a decade before it acknowledged the problem.
In addition, GM should be concerned about the cost-cutting features related to the ignition switch. If these cases were to go to a jury, the jurors would learn that the ignition switch problems that have been highlighted by some reports, articles and now lawsuits could have been avoided by a repair that would have cost the company an incredibly small amount, perhaps less than $1 per vehicle. The repair work would have avoided all of these accidents, injuries and deaths.
The delay in acknowledging the deadly ignition switch defect would show a jury how indifferent the company was to the safety of vehicle owners and their passengers. In fact, GM may have been able to fix the ignition switch defect for as little as 57 cents per vehicle. Because of that fact, it goes without saying that lawyers will highlight the fact that such a little bit of money to repair the ignition switch would have avoided the many traumatic deaths and injuries suffered by vehicle owners and occupants, if not for GM’s focus on profits over people.
The lawsuits that have been filed from Georgia to Texas claim that GM had been hiding this longstanding ignition switch defect from the public. One Louisiana lawyer says that GM could face about 200 injury lawsuits.
In the meantime, GM has hired Kenneth Feinberg to develop a compensation plan for the many lawsuits filed and yet to be filed against GM for this ignition switch defect. Mr. Feinberg is well-known for his tireless work on the 911 Compensation Fund and the many settlements he and his staff engineered following that disaster.
In the meantime, vehicles recalled by General Motors include the following:
• 2005-2010 Chevy Cobalt
• 2006-2011 Chevy HHR
• 2007-2010 Pontiac G5
• 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice
• 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
• 2006-2011 Saturn Sky
In a new class-action lawsuit filed against GM, millions of car and truck owners claim that they have lost resale value on their GM vehicles because of the deadly ignition switch defect problems that have led to the diminished value of their vehicles. This lawsuit filed in federal court in Riverside, Calif., seeks more than $10 billion in damages.
On June 8, 2014, GM’s CEO Mary Barra testified before the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Illinois attorney Anton Valukas was also asked to testify. Mr. Valukas is the head of GM’s internal recall investigation.
Obviously General Motors has a lot of litigation coming its way. One issue that still needs to be resolved is whether pre-2009 vehicles will be protected under the GM bankruptcy that was filed that year. So far, General Motors has not sought protection under the bankruptcy filing to shield it against any pending claims for personal injury or deaths resulting from this ignition switch defect. There continues to be a steady flow of news on the GM defective ignition switch problem and the litigation that has followed.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automotive product defect cases for individuals and families for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Hickory Hills, Palos Heights, Crestwood, Forest Park, Palatine, Park Ridge, Oak Park, Lemont, Hinsdale, Joliet, Glencoe, Lincolnwood, Lisle, Hinsdale, Geneva, Fox River Grove and Des Plaines, Ill.
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