GM settles two ignition-switch injury suits

Herman Weaver
September 19, 2016

GM settled the final two of six bellwether cases created to set the pattern for future settlements related to the maker's faulty ignition switches.

In 2014, following the public disclosure, the company started a "compensation program" along with other measures to ensure the safety of passengers in future.

In 2014, GM recalled 2.6 million cars owing to ignition defects dating back a decade, in some cases. However, the case was settled out of court. "Once power is switched off, vehicle safety systems - such as power steering, power brakes, air bags and seat belt pretensioners - no longer function as designed".

The high-profile ignition switch recall crisis occurred in the first year of GM CEO Mary Barra's tenure and tested the automaker's reputation for safety and transparency.

The agreements resolve only part of the legal overhang for GM, which is facing hundreds more claims of deaths and injuries in federal and state courts in the US related to its 2014 recall of millions of USA cars with faulty switches.

"We have an agreement to settle the last two federal bellwether cases", said company spokesman James Cain. The other plaintiff who settled, Amy Norville, was injured in a 2013 accident involving a Saturn Ion.

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Cockram's case would have been the fourth trial on the issue. GM also reached a mass settlement with Hilliard of about 1,400 others cases for $275 million. For the goal of proceeding, plaintiffs and GM had selected six cases for trials that consolidated in a Manhattan federal court as part of a multidistrict litigation proceeding.

The automaker tried and won the first three cases, starting with a lawsuit that was dropped after the plaintiffs were accused of perjury.

Despite these settlements GM's legal ignition-switch-related problems are far from settled.

Numerous cases were combined before a federal judge in NY, in a multidistrict litigation, a process used to resolve mass lawsuits. GM is appealing that ruling. The billboard shows six people who died in crashes. It also has paid $300 million to settle shareholder lawsuits.

The company has paid almost $875 million to settle death and injury claims.

The group of survivors is also pressing for additional legislation that would require auto dealers to tell vehicle owners about the information in technical bulletins circulated by manufacturers.

Other reports by MyHealthBowl

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