A Joint Effort By Law Firms Will Take On General Motors
Our firm will join with Lance Cooper, the Atlanta-area lawyer, in handling litigation against General Motors. Lance’s work in a Georgia case uncovered GM’s defective ignition system problems, as well as its fraudulent cover-up of the hazard, and his excellent work triggered the massive vehicle recalls. Our two firms will consolidate our resources and will work together on death and serious bodily injury cases against GM. We look forward to working with Lance in this important litigation. I will write more on this joint effort in the June issue.
Another Lawsuit Filed – This One In Indiana
Our firm, along with an Indiana firm, has filed a personal injury lawsuit in Indiana against General Motors (GM) on behalf of Josh Cull and Samantha Zollman. Each of our clients was seriously injured in a single-car crash in Clark County, Ind., on Oct. 31, 2012. Josh Cull was driving his 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt and was operating his vehicle safely when the defective ignition switch inadvertently moved out of the “run” position. This disabled the power steering, power brakes and airbag system. In the subsequent crash, both driver and passenger front airbags failed to deploy. As a result, both the driver and passenger suffered severe facial injuries. Josh Cull lost his right eye. His passenger, Samantha Zollman, more than a year later, is still undergoing facial reconstructive surgeries.
This lawsuit is the second that we have filed related to the recent recall by GM that addresses the ignition switch problem that allows the key to unintentionally slip from the “run” to “off” or “accessory” position while the vehicle is being operated. The ignition defect causes the sudden loss of engine power, braking and steering, creating a hazardous emergency situation. The air bag system is also disabled and rendered useless. We will be filing additional lawsuits related to the GM ignition defect very soon.
Josh Cull was traveling at the speed limit when he was involved in a single-vehicle accident. It was the type of crash a person ordinarily walks away from with only minimal injuries. But because of the ignition switch defect that disabled the power steering, power brakes and the airbags, Josh and Samantha sustained serious permanent injuries. They are among the hundreds of victims who trusted GM to make and sell safe vehicles.
We called on General Motors to waive any possible defense that may come from Old GM’s filing of bankruptcy. The automaker was bailed out by American taxpayers, and in the process it failed to disclose the ignition defect, the deaths and the knowledge of liability to either the public or the bankruptcy court. Thus the bankruptcy judge was unaware of the known ignition defect that existed in a number of GM vehicles – a defect that has caused the loss of more than 300 lives according to safety experts – and the company should now be held accountable for its grossly bad behavior.
While the lawsuits that we have filed thus far aren’t affected by the bankruptcy, there will be others that occurred prior to the bankruptcy that will be affected unless the bankruptcy judge takes action to protect GM’s victims. It would be a miscarriage of justice to allow GM to hide behind the shield of the bankruptcy court. We are asking GM to do the right thing, both by the taxpayers and the victims of its wrongdoing, and not use any bankruptcy defense.
GM recalled about 780,000 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles on Feb. 13. Twelve days later, it expanded the recall to include an additional 590,000 model-year 2003-07 Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky vehicles. There have been a total of 2.6 million vehicles recalled. Court documents and other evidence reveal that GM knew about the ignition switch problem as early as 2001. However, GM rejected several design changes and solutions that were recommended by its own engineers on numerous occasions because of the cost and the time it would take to make the changes. The company says it has linked 31 crashes and 13 deaths to the faulty ignition switch, but a new study commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety indicates the death toll could exceed 300.
Defendants named in the lawsuit are General Motors LLC, Delphi Automotive Systems, LLC; Delphi Automotive PLC; Delphi Automotive LLC; Chandler Chevrolet and Jim Hadley Chevrolet. The lawsuit was filed in Clark County, Ind., on April 15, 2014. We will keep you updated as this significant case develops. Mike Andrews, Cole Portis and this writer from our firm, along with David Stewart of the Stewart & Stewart firm, located in Carmel, Ind., will be handling this case.
The Status Of The Class Action Litigation
There have been a number of class action lawsuits filed against General Motors around the country. Each of these cases seeks damages for economic losses sustained by owners of the GM vehicles that have been recalled. The cases will also seek damages for violations of state consumer protection laws. Our firm, along with several other law firms, has filed six individual class action lawsuits. We expect these cases to all eventually go to a MDL judge. An important hearing, scheduled for May 2, will have taken place in the New York bankruptcy court by the time this issue is received. Hopefully, the court will shed some light on what to expect from the court relating to GM’s ability to hide behind a prior bankruptcy court order.
GM Attempts To Hide Behind Bankruptcy Shield
General Motors is attempting to avoid its responsibility to be accountable for its wrongful conduct by hiding behind a 2009 bankruptcy order. The first attempt by GM to hide behind bankruptcy was related to the various class actions that have been filed around the country. Clearly, any protection from lawsuit liability that was obtained when the old GM went into bankruptcy in 2009 – as it relates to the 2.6 million vehicles involved in the recent recalls – was fraudulently obtained by GM and its key officers. I do not believe that GM will be able to avoid being held accountable by attempting to claim bankruptcy protection. Fraud is still fraud – even in the bankruptcy court – and it won’t be tolerated by the courts.
Specific Requests Made To General Motors
There have been a number of requests made to General Motors from a number of sources asking the automaker to do the right thing by the victims of the automaker’s wrongdoing. Several weeks ago our law firm called on General Motors to waive any possible defense that may come from Old GM’s filing of bankruptcy. As you may recall this automaker was bailed out by American taxpayers, and in the process of a bankruptcy filing, it failed to disclose the ignition defect, the deaths it caused and GM’s knowledge of its liability to either the public or the bankruptcy court. Thus the bankruptcy judge was totally unaware of the known ignition defect that existed in a number of GM vehicles – a defect that has caused the loss of more than 300 lives according to safety experts – and the company should now be held accountable for its grossly bad behavior.
While the lawsuits that we have filed thus far aren’t affected by the bankruptcy, and clearly should not be, there will be others that occurred prior to the bankruptcy that will be affected unless the bankruptcy judge takes action to protect GM’s victims. It would be a miscarriage of justice to allow GM to hide behind the shield of the bankruptcy court. We are asking GM to do the right thing, both by the taxpayers and the victims of its wrongdoing, and not use any bankruptcy defense.
In my letter to Mary Barra, I also requested that GM to set up a court-supervised monetary fund to compensate all of the automaker’s victims. There has been no response from Ms. Barra. But based on media reports, GM is considering the setting up of a compensation fund for victims. We will see what transpires in that arena.
Another Delayed GM Recall
Based on what all we have seen in the past weeks, we shouldn’t be shocked to learn that General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures. This recall – which is not directly related to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles involving a defective ignition switch – comes even as GM was getting thousands of consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty repair claims. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) didn’t seek a recall of the compact car from the 2004 through 2007 model years even though the agency opened an investigation more than two years ago. During the probe NHTSA found 12 crashes and two injuries caused by the problem.
Documents, posted on NHTSA’s website, reveal yet another unbelievable delay by GM in recalling unsafe vehicles and point to another example of government safety regulators reacting slowly to a safety problem. The delay is hard to understand since NHTSA was alerted by consumers and received warranty data submitted by GM. As we know by now, a recall can be initiated by an automaker or demanded by the government.
As you will recall, the Ion was one of a few GM cars included in a March 31 recall of 1.5 million vehicles worldwide to replace the power steering motors. The recall also covered some older Saturn Auras, Pontiac G6s and Chevrolet Malibus. If cars lose power steering, they can still be steered, but with much greater effort. The loss of a vehicle’s steering comes as a surprise and can cause drivers to lose control of the cars and crash. In a statement issued by GM, the automaker admitted that it didn’t do enough to take care of the power steering problem. NHTSA said it closed the investigation into the Ion because GM had decided to recall the cars.
Source: Associated Press
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.