General Motors said on June 23rd it had ended a three-year-long consent order with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the automaker’s delayed recall of vehicles affected by the ignition switch defect. Since the May 2014 consent order — following a record $35 million civil penalty levied over the delayed recall — the automaker has met monthly with NHTSA. GM said it has proposed continuing monthly meetings with senior agency officials on field investigations, safety recalls and other issues.
GM started its first recall involving 619,122 vehicles in February 2014. Ultimately, millions of vehicles worldwide were recalled. Hundreds of deaths and injuries have been attributed to the design flaws, which vary from model to model. The automaker also paid $900 million in September 2015 in a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
As of December 2015, before shutting down, GM’s ignition switch compensation fund had paid nearly $600 million on 399 eligible death and injury claims. Reportedly, GM has settled more than 1,000 lawsuits over the issue. Our firm settled a large number of ignition switch defect claims, with a number of them outside the fund. All that happened in this litigation started with the excellent work by Lance Cooper who represented the Melton family in Georgia and discovered the ignition switch problem. As I have said before Ken and Beth Melton are the real heroes in this sad chapter in GM’s history. Their daughter Brooke was killed in a collision caused by the defect that GM was well aware of and had hidden from NHTSA and the public.
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