Tag Archive | "ignition switch"

Approved Death Claims Related to GM Ignition Switch Recall Rise to 90


DETROIT – The number of approved death compensation claims related to a recall of a faulty General Motors ignition switch has risen to 90, reported MLive.

The claims were approved by a fund set up by GM to compensate victims of a defective part in mid-to-late-2000s model cars that has led to a massive recall and a federal investigation.

The number of approved claims stood at 19 in mid-September and had grown steadily to 36 at the beginning of December and then to 42 in January. They hit 57 in February, reached 77 last month, and stood at 87 at the end of last week.

The victim compensation fund is being overseen by Kenneth Feinberg, a Washington, D.C. attorney who oversaw similar compensation facilities for disasters such as the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The GM ignition switch claims facility released its latest report Friday.

The deadline to file claims was Jan. 31. New claims cannot be submitted, but the facility is still accepting the electronic filing of supporting documents for existing claims.

The latest tally of claims received stands at 4,342, including 475 death claims, 289 “Category One” injury claims, or those resulting in quadriplegia, paraplegia, double amputation, permanent brain damage or pervasive burns, and 3,578 “Category Two” injury claims, or injuries that required a hospital visit within 48 hours of an accident.

Those numbers have remained unchanged for the past several weeks.

To date, there have been 253 claims determined eligible, a rise of nine claims over the past week. That total includes the 90 death claims, as well as 11 Category One injury claims and 152 Category Two claims.

According to the claims resolution facility’s program statistics, 1,420 claims have been deemed ineligible, an increase from 1,335 claims in last week’s report, while 1,181 claims are considered deficient, versus 1,141 in the last report. Another 997 remain under review, down from 1,085 in the previous report, and 491 claims have been submitted with no documentation.

GM has estimated that compensating all victims of the defective car part could cost the Detroit automaker anywhere from $400-600 million.

GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles, including 2.2 million in the U.S., affected by the ignition switch. The recall includes 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2007-2010 Saturn Skys, 2005-2011 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstices, and 2005-10 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models.

The faulty ignition switches at the heart of the unprecedented recall can move out of the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” positions, leading to a loss of power. The risk may be increased if the key ring is carrying added weight or if the vehicle goes off road or experiences some jarring event, including rough roads. If the key turns to one of those positions, officials say the front air bags may not work if there’s a crash.

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Fiat Chrysler Recalls 703,000 Vehicles in U.S. to Fix Ignition Switches


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling 702,578 SUVs and minivans to fix defective ignition switches that can unexpectedly turn off the engine, according to documents posted Friday by U.S. safety regulators, reported Reuters.

The recall covers Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country minivans from 2008 to 2010 model years and Dodge Journey SUVs from 2009 to 2010.

The automaker is advising customers to remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the ignition key, until the switches can be fixed. If there is a key fob, it should also be removed, Fiat Chrysler said in documents posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The company said road conditions or a jarring event may cause the ignition switch to move into the off or accessory position, turning off the engine and disabling the air bags, power steering and power brakes.

Fiat Chrysler said it expects to begin replacing the defective ignition switches for the 2008-2009 minivans and SUVs in April and the 2010 vehicles in August.

Some of the vehicles had previously been recalled for the same issue.

General Motors experienced a similar ignition switch problem and recalled 2.6 million small cars last year. At least 57 people were killed and more than 90 injured in crashes linked to the defective GM switches.

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GM Gets Deadline Flurry of Compensation Claims


The Jan. 31 deadline for claims to General Motors’ victim compensation fund spurred a flurry of 1,100 new filings, reported The Detroit Bureau.

The rush brought the total number of filings to 4,180, including 455 death benefits: an increase from 338 the week prior. Claims for the most severe injuries rose to 278, up from 224 a week earlier, and filings for less severe injuries jumped to 3,447 from 2,508 a week earlier.

The fund is administered by Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney whose firm oversaw similar funds related to the BP oil spill and other issues, who said in a radio interview yesterday that he expects the total number of filings to rise a bit more because any claims post marked for Jan. 31 will be accepted.

Last week, two U.S. Senators – Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) – asked GM to extend the deadline because they believed the claimants did not have enough information to make a decision on whether or not to file. The automaker declined. It would have been the second extension of the deadline as Feinberg convinced the company to extend the original Dec. 31 deadline by a month.

Feinberg said he believed the second extension was unnecessary and if someone didn’t know about about the deadline they were “living under a rock.” Georgia attorney Lance Cooper, whose firm submitted 45 claims to the fund, including 20 for deaths, told the Detroit News he felt the number of lawsuits agains the automaker would rise because the of the failure to extend the deadline. Cooper believes potential claimants should have had a year to file.

The lawsuits may come anyway. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court is considering allowing suits to be filed against the automaker, which was formed out of bankruptcy, despite the new company’s liability shield. The company is not using the shield against those who filed claims with the fund.

Thus far, Feinberg and his team have approved death benefits for 51 people, which is up from the initial 13 deaths attributed to the problem. There also have been eight claims for serious injuries approved and 69 for lesser injuries. The amount of the benefit varies upon the circumstances, but each death benefit recipient receives at least $1 million.

The fund, which could pay out as much as $600 million, was established by GM last year for victims and their families who were killed or injured as a result of the company’s faulty ignition switches. The switches could toggle out of the “run” mode in to “accessory” mode cutting off the vehicle’s power steering and brakes as well as shutting off its airbags.

Ultimately, GM recalled nearly 2.6 million of the vehicles – some of which were a decade old – last year and made multiple appearances before Congressional committees and is subject to a variety of lawsuits as well as an investigation by the Justice Department.

A federal bankruptcy court is deciding whether to let claims proceed. General Motors Co., which was formed in a government-sponsored sale of assets from its predecessor’s 2009 bankruptcy reorganization, has said it will not invoke its bankruptcy liability shield in the case of injuries or deaths to avoid paying claims, but is fighting other claims made by owners of vehicles for economic losses.

A hearing is set for Feb. 17 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York on the issue. If GM wins, victims of crashes before the restructuring likely could not sue GM.

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Approved Death Claims Related to GM Ignition Switch Recall Hit 50


The number of approved death compensation claims related to a recall of a faulty General Motors ignition switch has risen to 50, reported MLive.

The claims were approved by a fund set up by GM to compensate victims of a defective part in mid-to-late-2000s model cars that has led to a massive recall and a federal investigation.

The number of approved claims stood at 19 in mid-September and had grown steadily to 36 at the beginning of December and then to 42 in the middle of last month. They stood at 49 on Jan. 16.

The victim compensation fund is being overseen by Kenneth Feinberg, a Washington, D.C. attorney who oversaw similar compensation facilities for disasters such as the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The GM ignition switch claims facility released its latest report Friday.

The latest tally of claims received stands at 3,068, including 338 death claims, 224 “Category One” injury claims, or those resulting in quadriplegia, paraplegia, double amputation, permanent brain damage or pervasive burns, and 2,506 “Category Two” injury claims, or injuries that required a hospital visit within 48 hours of an accident.

To date, there have been 125 claims determined eligible, including the 50 death claims, as well as seven Category One injury claims and 68 Category Two claims.

The deadline for filing a compensation claim has been extended to Jan. 31.

According to the claims resolution facility’s program statistics, 386 claims have been deemed ineligible, while 908 are deficient and 802 are under review. Another 847 claims have been submitted with no documentation.

GM has estimated that compensating all victims of the defective car part could cost the Detroit automaker anywhere from $400-600 million.

GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles, including 2.2 million in the U.S., affected by the ignition switch. The recall includes 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2007-2010 Saturn Skys, 2005-2011 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstices, and 2005-10 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models.

The faulty ignition switches at the heart of the unprecedented recall can move out of the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” positions, leading to a loss of power. The risk may be increased if the key ring is carrying added weight or if the vehicle goes off road or experiences some jarring event, including rough roads. If the key turns to one of those positions, officials say the front air bags may not work if there’s a crash.

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GM Does Not Have to Turn Over Notes to Ignition-Flaw Plaintiffs: Judge


A U.S. judge on Thursday refused to let plaintiffs’ lawyers suing General Motors Co access notes from lawyers the company hired to prepare an internal report on the automaker’s decade-long mishandling of a deadly ignition-switch flaw, reported Reuters.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan said interview notes from the “Valukas report” – named for Anton Valukas, chairman of law firm Jenner & Block, who GM hired to spearhead the investigation – were protected by attorney-client privilege.

While the ruling shields materials that could boost the cases by plaintiffs, they will be able to learn the identities of interviewed witnesses who were not named in the report.

Facing a backlash over its handling of the ignition-switch defect, GM tapped Valukas, a former federal prosecutor, last year to conduct a comprehensive review of why the company took so long to address the problem. The defect resulted in the recall of 2.6 million vehicles. A program to compensate victims has so far identified 45 deaths linked to the switch.

Valukas and his firm conducted more than 350 interviews with 230 witnesses, Furman wrote, and each lawyer took careful notes and prepared summaries of the conversations. The final report issued in June 2014 cited a series of missteps by GM employees, from lawyers to engineers, which allowed the problem to go unresolved for years.

The report is public, and GM has agreed to produce documents cited in the report to plaintiffs’ lawyers, who have sued on behalf of individuals injured or killed as a result of the switch, and customers whose vehicles lost value.

However, the company balked at turning over certain materials, including interview notes. GM said the notes were protected by attorney-client privilege because they were prepared by Jenner & Block lawyers. But plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that GM never intended to keep the Valukas report confidential, and that the notes were not protected because they were not legal advice.

Furman disagreed, saying GM had established a “valid claim” that the communications were privileged. And “the cost of withholding the materials is outweighed by the benefits to society of encouraging full and frank communication” between lawyer and client, he wrote.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Steve Berman said he was disappointed with the ruling, but pleased to receive the list of unnamed witnesses. He also said plaintiffs believed the report was “flawed.”

GM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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GM Ignition Compensation Death Claims Rise to 49


General Motors’ ignition compensation fund said Monday it has approved 49 death claims, four more than the previous week, along with five new injury claims, reported The Detroit News.

In total, GM compensation adviser Kenneth Feinberg has approved claims for 49 fatalities and 72 injury claims linked to defective ignition switches through Jan. 16, his office said Monday. Of those, seven are for very serious injuries and 65 are for minor injuries.

The number of death claims rose to 311, up eight, and serious injury claims rose to 207, up five. Feinberg has declared 320 ineligible, including 49 death claims, while 857 claims are still under review and 763 have been submitted without documentation.

Last month, Camille Biros, the deputy administrator of the compensation fund, said it has made 65 compensation offers and 41 have been accepted. None have been rejected.

GM set up the fund to compensate those hurt or the families of those killed in 2.59 million now-recalled Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars with defective ignition switches that can inadvertently turn the engine off and disable power steering and air bags.

The automaker has said it expects to spend $400 million on claims, but said it could rise as high as $600 million. Asked if GM expected that figure to rise, GM CEO Mary Barra said earlier this month that the company hadn’t changed its guidance.

In May, GM paid a record $35 million fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the ignition switch recall that was delayed by nearly a decade, and agreed to up to three years of intense oversight by the safety agency.

The delayed recall has prompted investigations from the Justice Department, Congress, 48 state attorneys general, the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. and Canadian regulators. Barra fired at least 15 people in the aftermath of a scathing internal report written by an outside law firm and is searching for a new general counsel. GM made significant changes to its safety recall review process in the wake of the recalls.

In November, Feinberg recommended and GM agreed to extend the deadline 30 days until Jan. 31 — a month later than planned — as GM sent 850,000 letters to newly registered owners and others notifying them of the program.

Feinberg has said it could take six months to complete the review of all applications once the final claims are submitted, meaning it may not be until summer before the final tallies are known.

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