On September 4, 2014, Michigan State Attorney General William Schuette announced that Michigan was heading an executive committee of 45 state attorney generals who are investigating the General Motors (GM) ignition switch defect recall debacle of 2014. The attorney generals are exploring consumer protection violations and negligence claims.
The defective ignition switches recalled by GM caused GM cars to turn off the engine and cause accidents when the airbags and power brakes are disabled. In response to the defects, fifteen employees were fired by GM CEO Mary Barra. But as the ongoing investigations show, this may not have been enough.
General Motors has already faced financial consequences for the massive recalls initiated in 2014. In a record setting fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), GM was ordered to pay $35 million. The company was accused of delaying its recalls and is now subject to 3 years of additional oversight by the NHTSA to evaluate its safety processes.
In particular, the states are investigating whether General Motors knew about the ignition switch defects and whether the company engaged in negligence and fraud in dealing with the defects. Additionally, the attorney generals will be evaluating whether the auto company has taken appropriate steps to identify additional safety defects in
The state attorney general suit against General Motors is very similar to a similar suit filed by 29 states in 2012 in response to Toyota defects. That case settled in early 2013 when Toyota agreed to compensate 29 states with a $29 million settlement. In that case, Toyota is alleged to have known about the safety defect and failed to warn the public and recall the vehicles quickly.
So far, the ignition switch defects are said to have claimed 13 lives and caused more than 50 accidents. In response to potential claims, GM has set aside $400 million to compensate victims and their families. Over 300 total claims have been filed and the final deadline is December 31, 2014.
Kansas City, Missouri, car accident lawyers at Peterson & Associates have been working closely with injured car accident victims to pursue their GM related car accident claims.
If you or a loved has been involved in a car accident that involved a General Motors vehicle, contact us.