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GM’s Fourth Bellwether Case Dismissed

Automaker comes out ahead in three of four cases.

by on Apr.11, 2016

GM won the fourth of six bellwether cases designed to set the pattern for future settlements related to the maker's faulty ignition switches.

In quick succession, General Motors has avoided major damage in four of six injury lawsuits that were expected to dominate the calendar in 2016.

GM confirmed that plaintiffs’ lawyers suing over a faulty ignition switch design linked to nearly 400 injuries and deAdd an Imageaths dismissed what was scheduled to be the fourth in a series of six test trials over the defect, according to Reuters.

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The dismissal followed a settlement in what was to be the third lawsuit to go to trial and followed a win for the automaker a week ago in the first of the so-called bellwether trials to reach a verdict. Terms of the settlement in what was to be the third bellwether case were not disclosed. (more…)

GM Fund Finds Switches Caused 124 Deaths

Feinberg processes last of claims filed.

by on Aug.12, 2015

GM victims' fund czar Kenneth Feinberg approved payouts for 124 death claims.

The fund established by General Motors to compensate the victims killed or injured in vehicles with the maker’s faulty ignition switch will pay claims to 398 people or their families.

GM ordered the recall of nearly 2.6 million small cars in 2014 equipped with the switches after it was determined that they could slip into the “accessory” position while the vehicle was in motion, cutting power to the steering and airbags.

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As a result, the fund determined there were 124 deaths and 274 injuries attributable to the switch. GM initially said there were just 13 deaths related to the switches. Death benefit claims begin at $1 million and rise depending upon a variety of factors. (more…)

GM Captures Key Win in Recall Case

Judge rules internal investigation notes off limits.

by on Jan.16, 2015

GM secured a major court victory when a federal judge denied plaintiffs lawyers access to the notes of its internal investigation.

General Motors scored a major court victory as a New York federal judge ruled that plaintiffs suing the automaker for compensation due to faulty ignition switch couldn’t access critical documents from the law firm handling GM’s internal investigation.

Prior to the ruling, GM denied plaintiffs lawyers access to the notes taken by Jenner & Block LLP during the automaker’s internal investigation into its ignition switch defect.

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U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman’s decision concluded that plaintiffs could not view the interview materials involved in Jenner & Block LLP’s internal investigation of the automaker. Those notes were the basis of what is now called the Valukas Report. Anton Valukas, a former federal prosecutor, oversaw the investigation. (more…)

GM Smacked with New Lawsuit Alleging 29 Deaths

Maker’s crashworthiness honor offset by new suit.

by on Jul.30, 2014

A new lawsuit against GM claims the compensation fund designed Kenneth Feinberg doesn't go far enough.

General Motors’ ignition switch recall has triggered a new lawsuit in which the plaintiffs are claiming that 29 people have died and 627 were injured in accidents in which the defective part was a factor.

The lawsuit, Abney vs. General Motors, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which is emerging as the venue for cases against GM. The quasi-official number of deaths blamed on the defective ignition switch now stands at 13, according to figures from GM and the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration.

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The suit also attacks GM’s efforts to settle out of court with injured motorists through a procedure established by New York attorney Kenneth Feinberg. It covers claims that would not be eligible for the program, according to Robert Hilliard, the lawyer who filed the suit. The ineligible claims, according to Hillard, include accidents involving cars not among the 2.6 million vehicles initially recalled for switch issues and accidents in which the car’s airbags deployed. (more…)

GM Changed Ignition Part Without Telling Drivers, Regulators

Lawsuit uncovers modification aimed at quietly eliminating problem.

by on Mar.25, 2014

A lawsuit filed by the family of a woman who was killed driving one of GM's recalled vehicle discovered the automaker changed the ignition without telling owners or federal regulators.

General Motors knew about a defect in its ignition switches eight years ago and changed the design of an internal part, but never told federal regulators or the drivers of its cars, according to evidence from a recent lawsuit filed by the parents of a Georgia woman who died in a 2010 GM car crash.

In February, the automaker recalled 1.6 million vehicles, saying their ignition switches could be accidentally turned from “on” to the “accessory” position while the car was being driven, shutting down the car’s power brakes, power steering and airbags. GM’s own figures have linked ignition problems to a dozen deaths.

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But evidence from a lawsuit filed by the parents of Brooke Melton, whose Chevy Cobalt spun out of control after shutting off on her 29th birthday, shows that in 2006 GM altered two internal pieces of its ignition switches in a way that would make it less likely for the ignition to shut off accidentally – and made the change without alerting the government or the owners of the cars affected. (more…)