Tag Archive | "ignition switch"

GM Expands Website for Owners of Recalled Vehicles

General Motors Co’s website for owners of its vehicles recalled for faulty ignition switches has been expanded to include all 20 models involved, the automaker said, reported Reuters.

The site launched in April initially informed owners of the 2.59 million mostly small cars, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Saturn Ion, that had ignition switches that could turn the engine off, disabling air bags.

The recalls of cars with defective ignition switches have been linked to at least 13 deaths. GM has been criticized by safety advocates and fined by U.S. safety regulators for not acting until years after some of its engineers knew of the problems.

The website – gmignitionupdate.com – has information for approximately 15 million owners of the 20 models recalled for a potential ignition switch defect, GM said on Saturday.

Some of the models now on the expanded website are Chevrolet Malibu and Impala sedans and four Cadillac models.

GM said it also mailed about 1.9 million letters from Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra to owners of the initial set of 2.59 million owners, urging them to bring their cars in for repairs.

More than 1 million letters went to owners who had not responded by ordering parts via the website or from dealers, and another 875,000 went to owners who ordered parts but had not brought their cars to dealers for repairs, said GM spokesman Alan Adler.

By the weekend, GM said it had repaired about 800,000 of the 2.59 million vehicles in the initial set of recalls.

Adler said GM did not plan to expand the recall information website to include every recall or all recalled vehicles, primarily because they do not fit into a larger category as do the vehicles recalled for ignition switch issues.

Adler said the updated website and the letters were an effort to get vehicles with defective ignition switches fixed.

He said, on average, 80 percent of owners of GM vehicles get them fixed within a year after a recall is announced, and 85 percent after two years.

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Lawyers Pitch to Lead GM Ignition-Switch Cases

Lawyers from across the United States gathered in Manhattan Monday to jockey for leadership roles in litigation against General Motors over a faulty ignition switch that has prompted the recall of millions of vehicles, reported Reuters.

Nearly 40 lawyers waited for hours to make four-minute pitches to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, who is overseeing the cases, during a marathon hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Numerous other lawyers have submitted written applications for one of 15 lead spots in the litigation, which so far consists of 109 cases involving claims over personal injuries and diminished vehicle value related to the recall.

Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles over problems with the ignition switch, and has since recalled millions more with other possible defects.

Some well-known lawyers were among those making their cases Monday, including David Boies, a high-profile litigator who has handled marquee same-sex marriage and antitrust cases, and Joseph Rice, who has represented plaintiffs in mass litigation over asbestos, tobacco and the 2010 BP oil spill.

Boies, who is applying to serve as one of three lead counsel or alternatively on the 10-member executive committee, said his national profile and his firm’s resources would give plaintiffs an edge in court.

“This is an important case, a high-profile case, and you need the very best lawyers,” he told Furman. “This is not a time for false modesty.”

The lawyers Furman appoints will be expected to devote substantial time and resources to litigation efforts up front, in hopes of recovering a sizable share of legal fees from any eventual settlement or judgment.

Also seeking top roles Monday were a number of lawyers who led litigation against Toyota Motor Corp over acceleration issues starting in 2010. Furman has appointed Steve Berman, Elizabeth Cabraser and Mark Robinson, who helped spearhead those cases, to serve as temporary lead counsel in the GM litigation. Furman cautioned that the current assignments did not guarantee them a future role.

Berman said the Toyota litigation would be a valuable road map for plaintiffs suing GM. Toyota settled economic-loss claims stemming from the acceleration litigation in 2012 in a deal valued at $1.6 billion.

“I spent two and a half years of my life dealing with the issues (in Toyota) that we’ll deal with here,” he told Furman.

Furman said he planned to make the appointments by the end of the week.

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GM Must Face Suit Claiming it Covered Up Ignition-Switch Defect

General Motors Co has lost its bid to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the automaker of concealing critical evidence about a faulty ignition switch linked to the death of a Georgia woman in 2010, reported Reuters.

During a hearing on Saturday, Cobb County State Court Judge Kathryn Tanksley denied GM’s motion to dismiss the new lawsuit filed in May by the family of Brooke Melton, according to a statement from the company.

Melton died in March 2010 when the ignition switch on her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt slipped into accessory mode and the car collided with another vehicle, according to the suit.

Ken and Beth Melton, her parents, had previously sued the company in 2011 and settled in September 2013 for a reported $5 million.

Information that emerged during the original lawsuit – including a design change to the switch – helped trigger the recall of 2.6 million GM vehicles, including the Cobalt, and prompted congressional, federal and other investigations into whether the company had withheld knowledge of the problem.

After the recall, the Meltons said they asked GM to withdraw the settlement, but the company refused, according to court filings. The family then filed a new lawsuit in May claiming that the company had fraudulently concealed critical evidence about the switch, and that a GM engineer who testified in the case had lied under oath about the part.

The Meltons’ lawsuit said that the company had purposely misled them in order to force them to settle their case.

GM had argued that the case should be dismissed because it had already settled the Meltons’ claims over Brooke Melton’s death. But Tanksley said on Saturday that the case could move forward, according to GM.

The company said it was disappointed in the decision and continued to believe the lawsuit was blocked by terms of the 2013 settlement. “GM will review the court’s order once it is entered and will evaluate its options,” spokesman Pat Morrissey said in an email.

A lawyer for the Meltons, Lance Cooper, said the ruling would enable discovery to proceed.

“This will allow the Meltons to finally get the answers to their questions of who at GM knew about the defects in Brooke’s car, why she was never told about the design change with the ignition switch and who participated in the decision to conceal evidence during their previous case.”

The Meltons’ lawsuit is among dozens to hit the automaker in the wake of several GM switch-related recalls this year, including claims for injuries or deaths linked to faulty ignition switches, as well as customers who say their cars lost value as a result of the recalls.

The company on Aug. 1 began accepting claims for a program to compensate serious injuries and deaths in accidents tied to defective switches in the Cobalt, the Saturn Ion and related models.

Although the program is accepting claims from people who previously settled crash lawsuits against the company, lawyers for the Meltons have previously told Reuters that they intend to pursue their case in court.

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GM Receives 120 Claims Tied to Ignition-Switch Defect

In its first eight days, General Motors Co.’s compensation program has received about 120 claims, more than half of which involved deaths allegedly linked to GM cars that were recalled earlier this year to fix an ignition-switch defect, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer hired by GM to oversee the program, said of the claims filed so far, about 65 were reported by families who say the victims were killed in accidents involving cars that were subject to the 2.6-million-car recall.

Another dozen claims involved catastrophic injuries and the remaining are from people who were hospitalized, Mr. Feinberg added.

“We are just beginning now to review the claims and the documentation, to see whether they are eligible,” Mr. Feinberg said Friday. “It will be well after Labor Day before we begin to draw some conclusions,” he added. “We are encouraged by the early filings. It’s a good sign that owners are aware of the program and understand the program.”

The closing date to file isn’t until the end of the year.

The initial tally raises questions about whether GM has underestimated the number of deaths linked to the defect, which GM knew about for more than a decade but didn’t recall the cars to fix until February.

The company attributes at least 54 crashes and 13 deaths to faulty ignition-switches, which can abruptly slip out of the “on” position, stall the car and disable the air bags.

GM’s compensation plan will offer payouts for any accident in which the cars’ air bags failed to deploy. The checks could range from $20,000 to several million dollars to any driver, passenger, pedestrian or occupant of another vehicle, who can show they were hurt in a crash involving GM cars recalled this year for the defective ignition switch.

A death would automatically be awarded $1 million for pain and suffering above any other payments.

The program has no overall dollar limit, but a key condition is claimants must show via police or other reports a vehicle’s air bag didn’t deploy in the crash.

Any out-of-court death settlements connected to ignition-switch litigation can be refiled.

Mr. Feinberg said that once a victim’s application is deemed eligible, and the documentation is completed, the fund will issue a payment within 90 days for simple cases and 180 days for more complicated ones.

Meantime, GM’s troubles with safety recalls resurfaced this week, with more ignition-key trouble and a group of sport-utility vehicles requiring fixes to power-window switches because they might catch on fire. GM is telling customers to park the SUVs outside until they are repaired.

The power-window recall involves about 189,000 vehicles in North America, mainly from the 2006 and 2007 model years. Models affected include the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Isuzu Ascender and Saab.

GM also announced the recall of 202,115 Saturn VUEs because the ignition key can possibly be removed when the vehicle isn’t in the off position.

GM also recalled 48,059 2013 Cadillac ATS four-door sedans and 2013 Buick Encore vehicles because of lap-belt issues; 14,940 2014-2015 Chevrolet Impala sedans because of potential problems with the front-console storage compartment; 1,968 2009-2010 Chevrolet Aveo and 2009 Pontiac G3 vehicles for a brake-fluid issue; and 1,919 2014 Chevrolet Spark for potential bolt issues.

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GM’s Faulty-Ignition Fund Taking Victims’ Claims

A fund set up by General Motors to pay for deaths and injuries caused by its vehicles with faulty ignitions is accepting claims, reported The Detroit News.

The five-month filing period that began Friday is part of the fallout from General Motors’ recall of 2.6 million small cars beginning in February.

That recall forced General Motors Corp. to acknowledge it knew about the defective switches for more than a decade and triggered a sweeping safety review that has resulted in a series of additional recalls. About 29 GM vehicles have been recalled this year.

Drivers, passengers and pedestrians killed or hurt by one of the defective GM vehicles can file a claim through Dec. 31.

GM has already absorbed a $400 million charge to cover the potential payments to be made by the fund.

The bills could run even higher because the fund has no cap. The Detroit-based company advised investors last month that it might have to set aside an additional $200 million to compensate the victims of its blunders.

About 40 claims had been filed by late Friday night, said Camille Biros, a spokeswoman for the fund’s administrator, Kenneth Feinberg.

GM has traced 13 deaths to the defective switches, but some members of Congress investigating the problems peg the death toll at nearly 100 people.

The defective vehicles covered by the fund cover a range of GM vehicles, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion. The ignition switches in those cars could suddenly slip from “run” to “accessory,” causing engines to stall. That caused the power steering to shut off, making cars harder to control and disabling air bags in crashes.

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Harley-Davidson Recalls Bikes for Ignition Switch Problem

Ignition switch problems that have plagued General Motors and Chrysler have now turned up in the motorcycle business, reported Michigan Live.

Harley-Davidson is recalling more than 4,500 FXDL Dyna Low Rider bikes worldwide because engine vibration can turn the switches from “on” to “accessory.”

The recall covers motorcycles from the 2014 ½ model year, including more than 3,300 in the U.S. If the motorcycles have been modified to rev higher than 5,600 RPMs, an engine mount bracket can vibrate excessively, causing the problem.

If the switch goes to “accessory,” the engine can shut off while being driven and potentially cause a crash. The company said there have been no crashes or injuries reported from the problem.

Dealers will replace the bracket assembly and ignition switch knob for free. Harley began notifying owners in late July.

Harley said in documents posted Friday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the motorcycles are limited at the factory to 5,600 RPMs, but Harley offers performance calibrations that let the engine rev higher than the limit. If the bikes hit 5,800 RPMs, the top engine mount bracket can vibrate too much and cause the ignition switches to malfunction.

The company said it began looking into the problem after its service department discovered that an ignition switch slipped out of the “on” position in testing. Harley found four warranty claims and complaints about the problem, all in bikes with non-Harley exhaust systems.

The Milwaukee company’s recall comes after General Motors recalled 17.3 million vehicles to fix problems with ignition switches that can cause engine stalling. Chrysler has recalled another 1.7 million for the same problem. So far this year the auto industry has recalled more than 40 million vehicles, passing the old full-year record of 30.8 million set in 2004.

Federal safety regulators in June began a broad investigation of ignition-switch and air-bag problems across the auto industry. That investigation is still open, although the agency wouldn’t say if more automakers could be affected.

Harley said it issued the recall independently, and it has nothing to do with ignition switch problems in the auto industry or the NHTSA investigation.

The investigation and recalls come after GM bungled an ignition-switch recall of older small cars. GM acknowledged that it knew of the ignition problem for more than a decade but failed to recall the cars until earlier this year, when it recalled 2.6 million small cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt. Subsequent safety reviews caused GM to recall millions more vehicles for faulty switches.

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