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GM Under Scrutiny Following Ignition Switch Recalls

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According to NBC News, plaintiffs alleging injuries from faulty ignition problems recently filed a lawsuit against General Motors (GM). The case is pending in Texas, where it is being reviewed as a proposed class action.

Court documents state that the company was aware of the faulty ignition switch for over a decade before they took any action to correct it, thereby putting thousands of drivers at risk.

GM Recalls Vehicles with Faulty Ignition Switches

This isn’t the first lawsuit to be filed against the car company over this issue. Amber Marie Rose, 16 years old, was killed in a car accident in 2005. Her family did an investigation and determined the air bag on the Chevrolet Cobalt did not deploy as expected, and sued GM.

The New York Times states that Amber’s death “was the first of 13 linked to the problem,” where the faulty switch shut the engine off, disabling the air bags. The company started a recall of the vehicles affected in February 2014, but apparently knew about the issue years before.

The recall started with over 600,000 cars, and then expanded to over 2.6 million vehicles.  GM’s website states that the recall includes the following:

• 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s
• 2003-2007 Saturn Ions
• 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHRs
• 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuits (Canada)
• 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice
• 2007 Saturn Sky

The company goes on to explain that there is a risk, “under certain conditions, that your ignition switch may move out of the ‘run’ position, resulting in a partial loss of electrical power and turning off the engine.” The risk is greater when the vehicle goes through rough road conditions, or when key rings carry added weight.

Amber’s family reached an out-of-court settlement with GM. The company faced other cases over the years, yet failed to take action to protect other drivers.

Company Under Investigation

An earlier NBC News article reports that as early as 2001, GM knew of the problems with the switches, and in 2005 proposed that keys to the vehicles be changed to make the opening smaller. The change would have resulted in less “jostling” of the key (by the other items on the ring), but during testimony, it was revealed that GM made the business decision not to move forward with the solution. They did distribute service bulletins to dealers suggesting they tell consumers to get rid of extra weight on key rings.

The U.S. Attorney in New York has launched a criminal investigation into the issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Justice Department have also begun their own investigations to determine whether the company violated any criminal or civil laws in their failure to protect the public. GM has apologized for the delay in addressing the problem, and has promised to cooperate with federal investigators.