GM Ignition Switch Trial Begins in Federal Court
Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Jan 15, 2016 in Product Liability
The first bellwether trial over injuries related to defective ignition switches in General Motors cars is underway. The trial began this Monday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
Bellwether trials are often used in large class action lawsuits, where many of the complaints are similar in nature. A single claimant can be used to test arguments and establish precedent for the rest of the claimants.
There are six of these bellwether cases involved in the GM defective ignition switch cases. The first one involves a 49-year-old man from Oklahoma who crashed into a tree on May 28, 2014.
He claims his 2003 Saturn Ion failed to deploy airbags due to the ignition switch defect. The accident caused back and neck injuries for the man.
Ignition Recall Background
GM first issued a recall for its vehicles over the faulty switch in February 2014. The defective switch had a tendency to turn off if the key jostled, causing drivers to lose control, disabling airbags, power steering and power brakes. A total of 2.6 million vehicles were ordered for recall.
The company initially acknowledged at last six deaths related to the crashes. Since then, at least 349 death claims have come forward related to the faulty switches.
After a lawsuit in Georgia brought forth thousands of pages of documents, questions started to arise about how long GM knew about the problem before issuing a recall.
Kenneth Feinberg was hired by GM to setup a compensation fund for victims. He has so far offered settlements for the deaths of 124 people and additional payouts for 275 injury victims, for a total of $594.5 million.
Feinberg was also recently hired by Volkswagen for a similar fund related to its diesel emissions scandal.
Based on the opening statements of the attorneys in the current bellwether trial, it appears the plaintiff's will focus on the irresponsibility of the company. According to the plaintiff's attorney, his client was told there were not enough replacement parts when he contacted the dealership about fixing the issue and to try back later.
On the other side, the counsel for GM may try to argue that the plaintiff had pre-existing injuries and the auto accident did not cause him any physical harm. They may also argue that the airbag should not have deployed based on the type of collision.
The results of this trial, and the five other bellwether trials, may impact the settlement negotiations for all the people who have filed claims against GM.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced product liability attorneys at D'Amico & Pettinicchi will work to hold negligent companies accountable and get you the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.