Lawsuits claiming economic damages against General Motors pertaining to an ignition switch defect in GM vehicles are still being filed across the country. A panel of judges in Washington has been transferring many of those economic actions to what is known as a multidistrict litigation court, or MDL, which, in this instance, is the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
But one need not be in New York to file suit. Moreover, the product liability attorneys at Reich & Binstock will represent owners of GM vehicles that had faulty ignition switches no matter the owners' state of residency. The law firm operates in all 50 states.
For the time being, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will determine Jan. 29 whether Pennsylvania and Louisiana cases will be transferred to the New York federal trial court.
When the panel established the MDL in June 2014, it characterized all of the ignition switch lawsuits claiming economic damages as follows: "Each of the actions currently before the Panel asserts economic damages on behalf of certain classes and/or individuals stemming from an alleged defect in certain General Motors vehicles that causes the vehicle's ignition switch to move unintentionally from the 'run' position to the 'accessory' or 'off' position, resulting in a loss of power, vehicle speed control, and braking, as well as a failure of the vehicle's airbags to deploy. It is undisputed that the cases involve common questions of fact. Centralization ... will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary."
At the core of the call for economic damages is the claim that GM vehicles were substantially devalued by their ignition switch defect, which, plaintiffs assert, GM executives knew about and did nothing about for years. The litigation involves the GM that existed before and the GM that has thrived since the 2009 bankruptcy sale order, which the court distinguishes as Old GM and New GM. The New GM is the defendant now.
According to the consolidated class action complaint filed in New York in October 2014, "This case involves New GM's egregious and ongoing failure to disclose and affirmative concealment of a known safety defect in Old GM-manufactured vehicles. This Complaint is brought on behalf of the Classes for recovery of damages, statutory penalties, and injunctive relief/equitable relief against New GM as the sole Defendant."
The class action plaintiffs say, "An auto manufacturer should never make profits more important than safety and should never conceal defects that exist in its vehicles from customers or the public."
GM's first set of 2014 recalls covered "2.19 million vehicles in the United States and included the following models of cars manufactured by Old GM: 2005-2009 Cobalt; 2007-2009 Pontiac G5; 2006-2009 Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Solstice; 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit; 2003-2007 Saturn Ion; and 2007-2009 Saturn Sky."
The second recall dealt with 3.14 million vehicles, and it related to the "design of the ignition key with a slot (rather than a hole), which allows the key and the key fob to hang lower down in the vehicle where it is vulnerable to being hit by the driver's knee." The recalled models included the 2005-2009 Buick Lacrosse; 2006-2009 Buick Lucerne; 2004-2005 Buick Regal LS & GS; 2000-2005 Cadillac Deville; 2007-2009 Cadillac DTS; 2006-2009 Chevrolet Impala; and 2006-2007 Chevrolet Monte Carlo."
The third recall centered on 7.29 million vehicles, plaintiffs explain, including "the 2000-2005 Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo; 1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu; 1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero; 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am and 2004-2008 Pontiac Grand Prix; certain 2003-2009 Cadillac CTS; and certain 2004-2006 Cadillac SRX vehicles." Apparently, an unintended key rotation was the dilemma. The class of plaintiffs allege that, similar to the second recall, "New GM has downplayed the severity of the 'unintended key rotation' defect, and its recall offers a similarly cheap and ineffective 'fix' in the form of new keys. New GM is not upgrading the ignition switches in these vehicles..."
Class action plaintiffs thusly conclude, the New GM knew about these defects from its 2009 inception. Moreover, "Despite the dangerous, life-threatening nature of the ignition switch defects, including how the defects affect critical safety systems, New GM concealed the existence of the defects and failed to remedy the problem."
The General Motors Ignition Switch Litigation Team at Reich & Binstock offers a free consultation to the owners of recalled GM cars bearing an ignition switch defect. The owners of these vehicles should have the right to recover damages if their vehicles are devalued due to defects that allegedly GM should have cured sooner. Contact Reich & Binstock either at the toll-free number below or by submitting an electronic message through the form located on this web page.