There can be little doubt that the one case that General Motors is overly concerned with is the Melton case. GM told a New York federal court on Nov. 21 that it only wants to submit discovery documents that are related to claims that the automaker hid key details about its defective ignition switches, and not years of employee records. That was aimed directly at the Melton case which is progressing on schedule in a Georgia state court. Plaintiffs’ Ken and Beth Melton’s daughter Brooke died in a 2010 accident in which she lost control of her Chevrolet Cobalt when the key in her ignition switch shifted from the “run” position. The Meltons settled their original claims against GM last fall for $5 million, believing the automaker’s repeated insistence, including in depositions under oath, that it knew nothing about a change to the ignition switch that had apparently been made around 2006. That was a bald faced lie and GM knew it.
The Meltons offered to return the settlement money to GM and filed suit in May, asking for a rescission of the settlement agreement, because GM clearly negotiated the settlement by misleading them and hiding important evidence. As part of the renewed suit, the plaintiffs have asked for GM’s annual performance evaluation records for employees, from 2010 to the present. GM wants to produce only the records that refer to ignition-switch issues, while the plaintiffs want the complete truth about GM’s massive cover-up.
Lance Cooper’s work on the case with Florida engineer Mark Hood helped set off a chain of events leading to the GM’s historic recall of more than 17 million vehicles in 2014. This came after Lance discovered that the automaker had a new ignition switch under the old part number. Evidence was presented evidence of a switch change at a critical deposition in the Melton case last spring, but GM’s lead switch engineer, Ray DeGiorgio, testified under oath that he didn’t know about it. That was not true, since he signed off on the charge.
A congressional investigation in March found documents that confirmed that DeGiorgio personally signed off on the switch change in 2006. He is being made a scapegoat by GM. He was terminated by the automaker. GM stonewalled Lance’s efforts last year to obtain documents that would show if GM’s engineers approved the change. We have “good reason” to believe that persons at GM – above Dr. DeGiorio’s pay grade – knew all about he changes. This information was withheld from the Meltons.
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