Detroit, MI (PRWEB) June 05, 2014 -- When the engine and vital drivetrain systems of a 2005 GM-manufactured Chevrolet Cobalt suddenly shut down in mid-flight on a highway, killing 29-year-old Brooke Melton in the ensuing crash, a faulty ignition switch was suspected. Melton’s parents sued GM, and the two sides settled out of court (Melton v. General Motors (Case No. 2011-A-2652, State Court of Cobb County, State of Georgia)), with GM asserting it had no role in the death.
Since then, as USAToday reported, it became known that GM had been aware of the faulty ignition switch problems beginning in 2001* and that the company did not issue timely recalls for the defective autos. The Melton family, represented by attorney Lance Cooper of The Cooper Firm in Marietta, Georgia, is now re-engaging in their fight against the automotive giant—the family has now filed a second complaint alleging GM concealed critical evidence during litigation and allowed its corporate representatives to commit perjury (Civil Action No. 14A-1197-4, State Court of Cobb County, State of Georgia). LawyersandSettlements.com recently interviewed Cooper about the ongoing GM lawsuits.
The original GM faulty ignition lawsuit court documents (Melton v. General Motors (Case No. 2011-A-2652, State Court of Cobb County, State of Georgia)) allege GM knew years ago that the key system did not meet their specifications. The ignition switch sat too low on the steering column, which potentially allowed drivers’ knees to hit the chain, causing the key to switch from the ‘run’ position to ‘accessory’.
According to the court documents, the case alleges a program engineering manager knew about the problem as early as 2004.
According to The New York Times, when federal regulators levied the largest fine against GM allowable by law – $35 million – over the faulty ignition switch and an overall safety culture at the automaker described by regulators as “broken,” a governmental review of internal GM documents showed that the automaker had known about the ignition switch failure since at least November, 2009.**
That was the same year that GM reorganized following a filing of bankruptcy, emerging as a stronger and more viable company thanks in large part to a government-sponsored bailout. That reorganization, according to Reuter’s***, may shield the ‘new’ GM from liabilities dating back to the ‘old’ GM, with plaintiffs who are alleging liability for incidents predating GM’s exit from bankruptcy being forced to attempt pursuit of compensation from what remains of the original company.
According to the Reuter’s report, while the automaker is not backing away from responsibility for deaths and injuries incurrent from its faulty ignition switches, it is nonetheless attempting to escape liability for economic loss. “New GM’s recall covenant does not create a basis for the plaintiffs to sue new GM for economic damages relating to a vehicle or part sold by old GM,” the company said in a filing in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. ***
Meanwhile, Bloomberg Business Week reported that on May 16th US Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber – the same judge who oversaw GM’s 2009 reorganization – ordered both sides in the dispute to file briefs and set forth guideposts governing proceedings in the liability dispute. ****
*”GM CEO admits recall tardy, won't pledge liability”, USAToday, March 16, 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/03/18/gm-ceo-barra-president-reuss-recalls-safety/6557865/
** “GM Is Fined Over Safety and Called a Lawbreaker”, The New York Times, Matthew L. Wald, Danielle Ivory, May 16, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/17/business/us-fines-general-motors-35-million-for-lapses-on-ignition-switch-defect.html
*** “GM seeks US court protection against ignition lawsuits”, Reuters, April 22, 2014. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/22/us-gm-recall-lawsuit-idUSBREA3L08H20140422
**** “GM Judge Sets Out Rules for Multibillion-Dollar Recall Fight”, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Bloomberg News, Linda Sandler, May 17, 2014. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-05-16/gm-judge-sets-out-rules-for-multibillion-dollar-recall-fight-1
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