General Motors (GM) is still defending itself in federal courts across the country against personal injury and wrongful death cases, many of which originated prior to the company's bankruptcy restructuring in 2009. The actions are being brought against the automaker due to faulty ignition switches that were deemed defective. The ignition switches on these vehicles were widely reported to come off which could cause the car's power and safety systems to turn off. According to a 2016 Insurance Journal report, the problem caused the vehicle's power steering, air bags, safety belts and power brakes to not operate properly. In 2014, GM executed a recall on approximately 2.6 million cars that they felt were at risk. The problem is believed to have resulted in over 124 fatalities and 275 injuries.
A Wall Street Journal (WSJ) story explained that lawsuits filed against GM prior to 2009 were protected as a result of their bankruptcy; however, the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has just recently overturned that decision, which now leaves the company unshielded from the foray of suits potentially being resurrected. In addition to the personal injury and wrongful death cases, there was a group of plaintiffs who sought damages resulting from the sudden decrease in value in the vehicles they owned, as consumers became reluctant to purchase these cars in the used market and the auto dealer trade-in offers plummeted. The 2nd Circuit Court believes that GM was well aware of the safety issues, but chose not to disclose this information in efforts to have their bankruptcy case swiftly finalized.
In the meanwhile, GM has been negotiating settlements relative to many of the personal injury and wrongful death cases. According to Bob Hilliard, a Texas-based attorney for many plaintiffs, paperwork is expected to be filed soon acknowledging the settlement; Mr. Hilliard declined to comment on the financial terms of the settlement. The WSJ reported on other activity in the courts relating to this case as follows:
- A case in January was dismissed resulting from indications of fraudulent actions by the plaintiff.
- In March, a jury sided with GM by determining that the ignition switch did not cause the plaintiff's vehicle to crash.
- In August, a jury in Texas ruled that an ignition switch failure did not lead to an accident which results in one fatality and a passenger injury.
- A trial in Texas recently ended with a jury finding that GM wasn't liable for 2011 accident which resulted in the driver's death and the brain injury of a passenger traveling in a 2007 Saturn.
Has a company's defective product resulted in you or a loved one becoming a victim? The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal has been rendering justice for Colorado injury victims by taking a stand against companies, as well as the insurance providers and lawyers that represent their interests! Keep in mind that time may be running out to file your suit; therefore, contact our office today for a consultation.