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Many victims allege that General Motors put profits ahead of human safety and endangered the lives of countless innocent motorists by failing to issue a recall for defective ignition switches. GM paid $900 million dollars to the United States as part of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement. They were admittedly in violation of the TREAD Act (Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act), a Federal statute that requires automotive manufacturers to act with due diligence in notifying dealers, owners, and prospective buyers of the defect. GM employees submitted documents to Congress that proved that they knew about the defects in nearly 30 million recalled vehicles as far back as 2005. The congressional documents prove that they even held meetings in 2005 to discuss the problem but decided a recall would be too expensive. It is estimated that it would have cost GM as little as 57 cents per vehicle to issue a recall in 2005 when they admitted knowledge of the problem.
  • Gm Ignition defects recall
  • GM Recall
  • Ignition Switch defect

GM Settlement  | Catastrophic Injuries related to GM Ignition Defects Recalls

To date, more than 124 wrongful death cases have been compensated and settled. Despite the high degree of culpability, over 90 percent of the claims filed for compensation by individual motorists were rejected. Only 399 of the most serious injuries that involved amputation, severe burns, brain damage, and hospitalization were compensated.

Types of Accidents Eligible for Compensation | General Motors

If you were ever injured in a GM vehicle that was manufactured within the last 10 years, it may be one of the 30 million vehicles with faulty ignition switch defects. If the front airbags failed to deploy or the vehicle suddenly lost power, the accidents could be traced directly to the faulty ignition switches. At first, the cases were limited to those where the airbags had failed or a head-on collision resulted. Other cases demonstrated that the engine suddenly shutting off also caused accidents related to hydroplaning, braking, and steering. Power brakes rely upon the vacuum pressure produced by the engine to function. Power steering is powered by a hydraulic pump that is driven by the engine through a system of belts and pulleys.

This may have been a case of planned obsolescence that backfired. GM may have intentionally engineered the stability of the switch to fail by designing it below its own standard operating guidelines. Planned obsolescence is a common trend in the automotive industry. The ignition switch was held into place after startup by an “ignition switch detent plunger” that failed to maintain the sufficient mechanical resistance needed to prevent accidental disengagement. It could theoretically vibrate loose on a rough road, in harsh weather, an accident, or when sudden braking is required most.

GM Vehicles Recalled

The list of recalled vehicles that they continued to produce with defective switches, from earliest to latest ranges:

• Chevrolet Malibu (1997–2005)
• Oldsmobile Intrique (1998–2002)
• Oldsmobile Alero (1999–2004)
• Pontiac Grand Am (1999–2005)
• Cadillac Deville (2000–2005)
• Chevrolet Monte Carlo (2000–2007)
• Chevrolet Impala (2000–2014)
• Saturn Vue (2002–2004)
• Cadillac CTS (2003–2014)
• Buick Regal GS (2004–2005)
• Buick Regal LS (2004–2005)
• Cadillac SRX (2004–2006)
• Cadillac SRX (2004–2006)
• Pontiac Grand Prix (2004–2008)
• Cadillac DTS (2004–2011)
• Buick Allure (2005–2009)
• Buick LaCrosse (2005–2009)
• Daewoo G2X (2007–2009)
• Opel GT (2007–2010)
• Vauxhall GT (2007–2010)
• Pontiac G8 (2008 – 2009)
• Chevrolet Camaro (2010–2014)
• Chevrolet Caprice (2011 – 2013)
• Buick Lucerne (all)
• Chevrolet Cobalt (all)
• Chevrolet HHR (all)
• Pontiac G5 (all)
• Pontiac Pursuit (all)
• Pontiac Solstice (all)
• Saturn Ion (all)
• Saturn Sky (all)

An ongoing problem exists because recall repairs are not being carried out by a majority of owners. It is difficult for owners to pay attention to notifications they may receive by mail. This may have been part of the GM strategy in waiting for a large amount of time to pass because fewer owners would be alerted of the recalls. Most owners only pay attention to recalls when their vehicles are still under warranty and they are already at the dealership for mandated factory service. If the dealership alerts them while they are there, that is about the only time they carry out recall repairs. This means that there are still many unsafe vehicles on the roads endangering the public.

Compensation, GM ignition switch lawsuit

The trend for compensation in the GM class action lawsuit settlement case appears to be based upon documented serious injuries that are intrinsically linked to the ignition switch. A number of claims may have already been litigated through insurance companies and settled. These cases may be liable for compensation even if the settlement would open issues previously litigated based on the discovery of new evidence and fraud theories. Wrongful death claim compensation starts at $1 million.

If you believe you were injured in one of these ignition-related incidents, time is of the essence. It is important to contact an accident attorney who specializes specifically in GM ignition recall litigation. It is important to reconstruct the accident with expert testimony (in many cases) and to document the full extent of your injuries for maximum compensation. Damages are available to compensate victims for wrongful death, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, loss of income due to injury, disability, quality of life issues, and property damage. General Motors has already admitted fault that makes them liable when your case fits within the class of accidents recognized.

Hold GM Accountable for Commercial Nihilism

When you file a claim against GM, you hold them accountable and create a stronger incentive for the manufacturer to put people before profits. No matter what type of accident you may have suffered in a GM vehicle, you should always discuss the case with an attorney. Never speak with the insurance adjusters on your own. Their job is to elicit information that diminishes your compensation, even in the most cut and dry cases. Their factual accounts of what you told them can be misrepresented and used to bar suit against the insurance company and GM.

If your vehicle is one of the 30 million recalled, please act quickly to have the ignition switch replaced at the dealership. Recalls are carried out free of charge.

Background of the Ignition Switch Recall

“Subject Vehicles” used in this article refers to the GM vehicles sold in the United States equipped at the time of sale with ignition switches (the “Ignition Switches”) sharing an allegedly common, uniform, and defective design, including the following makes and model years:

  • 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt
  • 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR
  • 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2007-2010 Saturn Sky
  • 2005-2010 Pontiac G5

 

Defective motor vehicle lawyers assert that the 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt falls within this line of Subject Vehicles which contain defective Ignition Switches and/or defective Electronic Power Steering (“EPS”).

  • An estimated 2.6 million vehicles were sold in the United States equipped with the Ignition Switches. Upon information and belief, there are other vehicles sold in the United States equipped with the Ignition Switches that have not yet been disclosed by GM.
  • The Ignition Switches in the Subject Vehicles turn on the vehicle’s motor engine and main electrical systems when the key is turned to the “run” or “on” position. The Ignition Switches have several common switch points, including “RUN” (or “ON”), “OFF,” and “ACC” (“accessory”).  At the “run” position, the vehicle’s motor engine is running and the electrical systems have been activated; at the “accessories” position the motor is turned off, and electrical power is generally only supplied to the vehicle’s entertainment system; and at the “off” position, both the vehicle’s engine and electrical systems are turned off.  In most vehicles, a driver must intentionally turn the key in the ignition to move to these various positions.
  • GM began installing the Delphi-manufactured Ignition Switches beginning in 2002 vehicle models. Upon information and belief, Delphi  allegedly knew the Ignition Switches were defectively designed, but nonetheless continued to manufacture and sell the Subject Ignition Switches with the knowledge that they would be used in GM vehicles.
  • Because of the alleged defects in their design, the Ignition Switches installed in the these General Motors Vehicles are, by their nature, loose and improperly positioned and are susceptible to failure during normal and expected conditions. The ignition module is located in a position in the vehicle that allows a driver to contact the key ring, and inadvertently switch the ignition position. Due to allegedly faulty design and improper positioning, the Ignition Switches can unexpectedly and suddenly move from the “on” or “run” position while the vehicle is in operation to the “Off” or “Acc” position (the “Ignition Switch Defect”). When this ignition switch failure occurs, the motor engine and certain electrical components such as power-assisted steering and anti-lock brakes are turned off, thereby endangering the vehicle occupants.
  • The Ignition Switch Defect can occur at any time during normal and proper operation of the Subject Vehicles, meaning the ignition can suddenly switch off while it is moving at 70 mph on the freeway, leaving the driver unable to control the vehicle.
  • GM has acknowledged that the Ignition Switch Defect has caused at least thirteen deaths. GM has refused, however, to disclose the identities of those it counts among these thirteen deaths.  Independent safety regulators have recorded 303 deaths associated with only the Saturn Ion and Chevrolet Cobalt Subject Vehicle models. The actual number of deaths for all Subject Vehicle models is expected to be much higher.
  • The Ignition Switch Defect precludes drivers and owners of the Vehicles from proper and safe use of their vehicles, reduces vehicle occupant protection, and endangers them and other vehicle occupants. However, no driver or owner of the Subject Vehicles knew, or could reasonably have discovered, the Ignition Switch Defect, prior to it manifesting in a sudden and dangerous failure.
  • Upon information and belief, it is alleged that prior to the sale of the Subject Vehicles, GM knew of the Ignition Switch Defect through sources such as pre-release design, manufacturing, and field testing data; in-warranty repair data; early consumer complaints made directly to GM, collected by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Office of Defect Investigation (“NHTSA ODI”) and/or posted on public online vehicle owner forums; field testing done in response to those complaints; aggregate data from GM dealers; and accident data, yet despite this knowledge, GM failed to disclose and actively concealed the Ignition Switch Defect from the public, and continued to market and advertise the Subject Vehicles as reliable and safe vehicles, which they  many personal injury lawyers believe they are not.
  • GM allegedly being fully aware of the problem also  failed to warn  the public. From July 10, 2009, through the late summer of 2014, GM had full knowledge of the defective part and the risks associated with it and failed to recall the vehicles as it was required by statute to do and otherwise warn the public. Such conduct by GM is independently wrongful and otherwise actionable conduct.
  • GM made its own decisions not to recall the defective vehicles each and every year since 2009.  GM’s failure to warn, failure to comply with its duties to recall the vehicles that were known to be defective are all decisions  GM – made. Thus,  GM should be responsible for the consequences and legal liabilities thereof.
  • As a result of GM’s  alleged own, independent misconduct which occurred after July 10, 2009, some people in the public were harmed and suffered actual damages and personal injuries, in that the Vehicles were allegedly unsafe, unfit for their ordinary and intended use, and have manifested, or are at unreasonable risk of manifesting, the Ignition Switch Defect by way of a sudden and dangerous failure that puts them and others at serious risk of injury or death.
  • Drivers and owners of the Subject Vehicles did not allegedly receive the benefit of their bargain as purchasers and/or lessees, received vehicles that were of a lesser standard, grade, and quality than represented, and did not receive vehicles that met ordinary and reasonable consumer expectations.
  • Many product liability lawyers and GM ignition switch defective auto lawyers allege that drivers and owners of the  Vehicles did not receive vehicles that would reliably operate and were reasonable safe. GM ignition switch victims allege that they did not receive a vehicle with non-defective ignition and power steering parts. These defect attorneys assert that drivers and occupants are in danger of encountering an ongoing and undisclosed risk of harm, which  they allege could could have been avoided.
  • Some defective motor vehicle lawyers and and automobile defect lawyers allege that GM knew of this risk but did not disclose. GM made its own, independent decision after 2009, to not warn consumers of the dangers inherent in these vehicles, to not recall the vehicles, and to limit the extent of the recalls.  GM made the decision not to recall the subject vehicles, despite allegedly knowing of its defective Ignition Switch and defective power steering, until 2014. The recall  was  in some cases years after certain near-fatal accidents and years after some fatal collisions caused by the defective Ignition Switch.
  • Defective vehicle attorneys and auto defects lawyers acting by and through GM ignition switch lawsuit clients assert that GM a made no effort to ensure that drivers of the affected older model vehicles received recall noticed for the EPS defect. Moreover, General Motors did not fully disclosure – and still has not entirely disclosed – the full extent of the risk of sudden and unexpected loss of power steering. Finally, even had certain victims received the 2010 recall for defective EPS, it in all probability would not have prevented all accident as much of the work done pursuant to that recall was not effective and itself had to be recalled in 2014.

The Subject Vehicles

  • The Saturn Ion was a compact car first introduced in 2002 for the 2003 model year, and was discontinued in 2007.
  • The Chevrolet Cobalt was a compact car first introduced in 2004 for the 2005 model year, and was discontinued in 2010.
  • The Pontiac G5 was first introduced in 2004 for the 2005 model year, and was discontinued in 2009. The coupe and four-door sedan version of the G5 was marketed in Canada from 2005 to 2010.
  • The Chevrolet HHR was a compact car first introduced in 2005 for the 2006 model year, and was discontinued in 2011.
  • The Pontiac Solstice was a sports car first introduced in 2005 for the 2006 model year, and was discontinued in 2009.
  • The Saturn Sky was first introduced in 2006 for the 2007 model year, and was discontinued in 2009.
  • The Saturn Ion, Pontiac G5, Chevrolet HHR, and Chevrolet Cobalt were constructed on GM’s Delta Platform.
  • The Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice were constructed on GM’s Kappa Platform.
  • In all likelihood, GM promoted these Subject Vehicles as safe and reliable in numerous marketing and advertising materials.
  • No reasonable consumer expects that the vehicle that he or she purchases or leases contains a known but undisclosed design defect that poses a safety risk at the time or purchase or lease.
  • GM Field Reports and Internal Testing Reveal a Problem
  • In 2001, during pre-production of the 2003 Saturn Ion, GM engineers learned that the ignition switch could unintentionally move from the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” position. In an internal report generated at the time, GM identified the cause of the problem as “low detent plunger force.” The “detent” is part of the ignition switch’s inner workings that keeps the switch from rotating from one setting to another unless the driver turns the key. The report stated that than an “ignition switch design change” was believed to have resolved the problem.
  • In 2003, a second report documented an incident with a Saturn Ion where “a service technician observed a stall while driving.” There the technician noted that the owner had several keys on the key ring and surmised that the “weight of the keys had worn out the ignition switch” and replaced the switch and closed the matter.
  • GM engineers encountered the problem again in 2004 just prior to the launch of the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. GM learned of an incident in which a Cobalt vehicle suddenly switched out of the “run” position and lost engine power. GM engineers were able to replicate this problem during test drives of the Cobalt. According to GM, an engineering inquiry known as a Problem Resolution Tracking System (“PRTS”) was able to pinpoint the problem and evaluate a number of solutions; however, after considering “lead time required, cost, and effectiveness,” General motors decided to do nothing. GM also decided to do nothing for almost five years.
  • After the Chevrolet Cobalt entered the market in 2004, GM began receiving complaints about incidents of sudden loss of engine power. General motors engineers determined that the low torque in the ignition switch could cause the key to move from the “run” to the “accessory” or “off” position under ordinary driving conditions with normal key chains because “detent efforts on ignition switch are too low, allowing key to be cycled to off position inadvertently.” Specifically, in February 2005, GM engineers concluded that “there are two main reasons that we believe can cause a lower effort in turning the key: a lower torque detent in the ignition switch . . . [and a] low position of the lock module [on] the [steering] column.”
  • Additional PRTS’s were opened to investigate the problem, and in May 2005, GM engineers proposed redesigning the key head from a “slotted” to a “hole” configuration to prevent inadvertent shifting of the key in the ignition. Although GM initially approved the design, the company once again declined to act.
  • GM CEO Mary Barra explained in her April 1, 2014 testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce that the proposed “fix” for the Ignition Switch Defect was rejected in 2005 because it would have taken too long and cost too much. Ms. Barra testified that GM’s decision making was the product of a “cost culture” versus a “culture that focuses on safety and quality.”
  • In April 2006, GM approved a design change for the Chevrolet Cobalt’s ignition switch, as proposed by the supplier, Delphi. According to GM, the changes included a new detent plunger and spring, but there was no corresponding change in the ignition switch part number. GM estimates that Delphi began producing the redesigned ignition switch for all Subject Vehicles during the 2007 model year.
  • Delphi assigned its newly designed switch the same part number assigned to the faulty ignition switch. Upon information and belief, Delphi’s action was intended to make it difficult to trace the defective switch back to its original design in 2001.
  • After another PRTS in 2009, GM redesigned the Chevrolet Cobalt key, changing the top of the key from a “slot” design to a “hole” design—as had been suggested in 2005. GM instituted the change after finding that consumers “with substantially weighted key chains/additional keys hanging from ignition key have experienced accidental ignition shut-off” and the design change was intended to “significantly reduce downward force and the likelihood of this occurrence.” The new key design was produced for 2010 model year under GM.
  • According to Delphi, the component required to fix the Ignition Switch Defect costs approximately $2 to $5. GM management estimated that replacement components would cost an additional 90 cents per vehicle, but would only save 10 to 15 cents in warranty costs.
  • General motors also now acknowledges that Field Product Reports and PRTS reports related to the Subject Vehicles from 2003 and 2006 concerned engine stalling in the Saturn Ion and may be related to the Ignition Switch Defect.
  • GM Issues Information Service Bulletins
  • In 2005, as a result of internal investigation, GM issued an Information Service Bulletin entitled the “Information on Inadvertent Turning of Key Cylinder, Loss of Electrical System and No DTCs” (#05-02-35-007) to GM dealers warning about a stalling problem related to inadvertent shifting of the ignition switch. The bulletin applied to 2005 and 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006 Chevrolet HHR, 2005 and 2006 Pontiac Pursuit (Canada only), 2006 Pontiac Solstice, and 2003 to 2006 Saturn Ion, which all had the same ignition switch.
  • The bulletin advised that “[t]here is potential for the driver to inadvertently turn off the ignition due to low ignition key cylinder torque/effort,” noting that risk was greater “if the driver is short and has a large and/or heavy key chain” such that “the driver’s knee would contact the key chain while the vehicle was turning.” GM dealers were told to inform consumers of this risk, and recommend “removing unessential items from their key chain.” The bulletin also informed dealers that GM had developed an insert for the key ring so that “the key ring cannot move up and down in the slot any longer – it can only rotate on the hole” and that the key ring has been replaced by a smaller design such that “the keys [will] not hang[ ] as low as in the past.”
  • On July 19, 2005, The New York Times reported that Chevrolet dealers were telling Cobalt owners to remove extra items from their key rings to prevent accidental stalling of their vehicles. Alan Adler, GM’s Manager for Safety Communications, stated that the problem manifested in only “rare cases when a combination of factors is present.” Adler advised that consumers “can virtually eliminate this possibility by taking several steps, including removing nonessential material from their key rings.”
  • The Times reporter noted that his wife had already encountered the problem with the Chevrolet Cobalt: she was driving on a freeway, accidentally bumped the steering column with her knee, and found the engine “just went dead.” She was able to safely coast to the side of the road. When the vehicle was brought back to the Chevrolet dealer for an inspection, nothing was found wrong and they were advised of the service bulletin. The reporter stated that the key chain being used at the time of the stalling incident was provided by GM, and included only the key fob and a tag.
  • In a statement at the time through Adler, insisted that this problem was not a safety issue because “[w]hen this happens, the Cobalt is still controllable” and the “engine can be restarted after shifting to neutral.” Adler also claimed that this ignition issue was widespread because “practically any vehicle can have power to a running engine cut off by inadvertently bumping the ignition . . . .”
  • In October 2006, GM updated the Information Service Bulletin, “Information on Inadvertent Turning of Key Cylinder, Loss of Electrical System and No DTCs” (#05-02-35-007A) to include additional vehicles and model years. Specifically, GM included the 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, the 2007 Chevrolet HHR, the 2007 Pontiac G5, the 2007 Pontiac Solstice, the 2007 Saturn Ion, and the 2007 Saturn Sky. The updated bulletin included the same service advisories to GM dealers as the earlier version.
  • According to GM, the service bulletin was the appropriate response “given that the car’s steering and braking systems remained operational even after a loss of engine power.” GM reports that GM dealers provided 474 key inserts to GM vehicle owners who brought their vehicles in for servicing.
  • Reports of Unintended Engine Shut Down
  • A number of reports from warranty and technical assistance data beginning in 2003, “addressed complaints of stalling Ion vehicles.” Despite these reports, the Saturn Ion remained in production until 2007.
  • On May 26, 2005, a reporter for The Daily Item in Sunbury, Pennsylvania reviewed the Chevrolet Cobalt and found that during his test drives of the vehicle there were “[u]nplanned engine shutdowns [that] happened four times during a hard-driving test week” with the vehicle.
  • Crash Reports and Data
  • The Defendants allegedly knew of the Ignition Switch Defect and its deadly consequences for consumers, but concealed that information from safety regulators and the public.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that there were three fatal car crashes involving Saturn Ions due to a failure of the airbag to deploy prior to July 2005.
  • In July 2005, a sixteen-year old was killed when her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt crashed with the ignition switch in the accessory mode, which disabled the airbag.
  • In 2006, there were at least two fatalities associated with a Chevy Cobalt crash. Information from the car’s data recorder indicated that the ignition switch was in “accessory” instead of run, and the front airbags failed to deploy.
  • In 2007, GM reviewed available sensor data from nine front-impact Cobalt crashes where the airbags did not deploy. GM discovered that in four of the crashes, the ignition was in the “accessory position.” Crash information for the other Subject Vehicles was not reviewed.
  • Further, it has been alleged that GM, its in-house lawyers, and others were aware that victims were being kept in the dark about an ignition switch defect because the crash recorder indicated the vehicle was in the “Run” position when in fact GM engineers and its outside expert concluded the recorder was in error and the vehicle was in “Accessory.” This calls into question the reliability and accuracy of data recording results. Other aspects of this defect may still not have fully been disclosed, g., airbag deployment may not necessarily mean a vehicle that crashed was not due to Ignition Switch defect, especially where there are reports of power steering and braking failure.
  • In 2007, NHTSA’s early warning division reviewed available data provided by GM on airbag non-deployments in Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles. This review identified 43 incidents in which airbags may not have deployed in a crash. The early warning division referred the case to NHTSA’s data analysis division for further screening. A defects panel was convened, but after reviewing the data and consulting with GM, the panel ultimately concluded that “[t]he data available at the time of this evaluation did not indicate a safety defect or defect trend that would warrant the agency opening a formal investigation.” In prepared remarks delivered April 1, 2014, to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman stated, “At the time of these reviews, NHTSA did not have the information that [New] GM has since provided—for instance, new evidence linking airbag non-deployment to faulty ignition switches.”
  • GM has identified 23 frontal-impact crashes in the United States involving 2005 to 2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and 2007 Pontiac G5s in which the Ignition Switch Defect may have caused or contributed to the failure of the safety airbags to deploy.
  • GM has identified 8 frontal-impact crashes in the United States involving 2003 to 2007 Saturn Ion vehicles in which the Ignition Switch Defect may have caused or contributed to the failure of the safety airbags to deploy. These crashes resulted in four fatalities and six injuries to occupants.
  • GM has identified 3 frontal-impact crashes in the United States involving 2006 and 2007 model year Chevrolet HHR vehicles in which the Ignition Switch Defect may have caused or contributed to the failure of the safety airbags to deploy. These crashes resulted in three injuries to occupants.
  • GM’s Belated Repair Recall of Some Vehicles & New GM’s Pattern & Practice of Concealment of Defects in General
  • On February 7, 2014,  GM filed a Part 573 Defect Notice with the NHTSA to recall 2005 to 2007 model year Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007 Pontiac G5 vehicles. The notice stated that the “ignition switch torque performance may not meet General Motors’ specifications,” explaining that if “the key ring is carrying weight or the vehicle goes off road or experiences some other jarring event, the ignition switch may inadvertently be moved out of the ‘run’ position” and may result in deactivating the airbags. The notice did not acknowledge that the Ignition Switch Defect could occur under normal driving conditions, even when the key ring is not carrying added weight.
  • The notice by  General Motors also did not identify all the vehicles affected by the Ignition Switch Defect.
  • The notice by New GM failed to indicate the full extent to which  GM has been aware of the Defect. The notice suggests that New GM’s knowledge of the defect is recent, stating that “[t]he issue was presented to the Field Performance Evaluation Review Committee and on January 31, 2014, the Executive Field Action Decision Committee decided to conduct a safety recall.”
  • In a February 24, 2014 letter to the NHTSA,  GM amended the Part 573 Report to include a more detailed chronology. The chronology indicated that GM first learned of the Ignition Switch Defect during the launch of the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt from field tests by its engineers.
  • On February 25, 2014,  General Motors amended its Part 573 Report to cover additional models and model years due to the same Ignition Switch Defect. Specifically, GM identified the 2003 to 2007 model years of the Saturn Ion, 2006 and 2007 model years of the Chevrolet HHR, 2007 model year of the Pontiac Solstice, and 2007 model year of Saturn Sky vehicles.
  • According to the NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman, the chronology information provided by GM on February 24, 2014 “raise[d] serious questions as to the timeliness of [New] GM’s recall.” Therefore, the NHTSA opened a “timeliness query” on February 26, 2014.
  • On March 4, 2014, the NHTSA issued  GM a Special Order demanding that it provide additional information by April 3, 2014, on 107 specific requests, including information to “evaluate the timing of GM’s defect decision making and reporting of the safety defect to NHTSA.”
  • On March 11, 2014, GM filed a new Part 573 report superseding its February 25 filing. The new chronology provided with the report indicated that GM was aware of the Ignition Switch Defect in 2001—significantly earlier than its previous 2004 disclosure. GM now indicated that it had a report from 2001 that revealed a problem with the ignition switch during pre-production of the Saturn Ion.
  • On March 28, 2014, GM filed a new Part 573 report, which expanded the recall set forth in its February 25, 2014 filing. New GM’s March 28 report indicated that several additional model year vehicles may be affected by the Ignition Switch Defect. GM identified those vehicles as the 2008-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2008-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2008-2010 Pontiac Solstice, 2008-2010 Pontiac G5, and 2008-2010 Saturn Sky. The March 28 report added over one million vehicles to the total affected by the Ignition Switch Defect.
  • GM notified dealers of the Subject Vehicles of the recall in February and March 2014. GM also notified owners of the Subject Vehicles by letter of the recall. The letter minimized the risk of the defect, indicating that the Ignition Switch Defect would occur only “under certain conditions” and emphasized that the risk increased if the “key ring is carrying added weight . . . or your vehicle experiences rough road conditions.”
  • At the time of the Ignition Switch recall,  GM advised the public that the replacement ignition switches “ARE NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE.”
  • The alleged systematic concealment of known defects was believed by some to be deliberate, as GM followed a consistent pattern of endless “investigation” and delay each time it became aware of a given defect, as epitomized by the Ignition Switch Defect and cover-up of same that gave rise to a criminal wire fraud investigation that was recently resolved through a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (“DPA”) with the United States Department of Justice. Recently revealed documents show that GM valued cost-cutting over safety, New GM’s personnel were trained to never use the word “defect,” “stall,” or other words suggesting that any GM-branded or  GM vehicles are defective. GM routinely chose the cheapest parts supplier without regard to safety, and GM allegedly discouraged employees from acting to address safety issues.
  • In addition, GM was plagued by what CEO Mary Barra euphemistically calls “transactional decision making,” in which GM employees “color[] inside the lines of their own precise job description without thinking independently or holistically,” i.e., without looking at the larger issue of safety.[8]
  • In light of GM’s systemic devaluation of safety issues, it is not surprising that, from the date of its inception, General Motors itself produced a grossly inordinate number of vehicles with serious safety defects and allegedly kept silent about  GM vehicles it knew had defects. Until 2014,  GM was successful in concealing both its disregard of safety and the myriad defects that existed in  GM vehicles because of that disregard.
  • According to the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), GM worked to hide documents from NHTSA and created firewalls to prevent people within GM from “connecting the dots” with respect to safety issues and defects.
  • The array of concealed defects is astounding and goes far beyond the Ignition Switch Defect, the belated revelation of which sparked GM’s 2014 serial recalls. The defects affected virtually every safety system in Old and New GM vehicles, including, but by no means limited to, the airbags, seatbelts, brakes, brake lights, electronic stability control, windshield wipers, sensing and diagnostic modules, and warning chimes.
  • This defect list includes at least the following parts, most of which affect the vehicle’s safety: (1) ignition switch; (2) power steering; (3) airbags; (4) brake lights; (5) shift cables; (6) safety belts;
(7) ignition lock cylinders; (8) key design; (9) ignition key; (10) transmission oil cooler lines; (11) power management mode software; (12) substandard front passenger airbags; (13) light control modules; (14) front axle shafts; (15) brake boosts; (16) low-beam headlights;
(17) vacuum line brake boosters; (18) fuel gauges; (19) accelerator; (20) flexible flat cable airbags; (21) windshield wipers; (22) brake rotors; (23) passenger-side airbags; (24) electronic stability control; (25) steering tie-rods; (26) automatic transmission shift cable adjusters;
(27) fuse blocks; (28) diesel transfer pumps; (29) radio warning chimes; (30) shorting bars;
(31) front passenger airbag end caps; (32) sensing and diagnostic modules (“SDM”); (33) sonic turbine shafts; (34) electrical systems; (35) the seatbelt tensioning system; (36) power doors; and (37) door modules.
  • GM purportedly received reports of crashes, deaths, injuries, and safety concerns expressed by vehicle owners that put GM on notice of the serious safety issues presented by many of these defects.  GM  allegedly knew and was fully aware of the now infamous Ignition Switch Defect (and many other serious defects in numerous models of  GM vehicles, such as the EPS defect) from the very date of its inception on July 11, 2009. For example, at least two dozen New GM employees, many high-level or in positions of influence, knew of the Ignition Switch Defect as of that date.
  • GM’s claims that the defects were known only to lower-level engineers is false. For example, current CEO Mary Barra, while head of product development, was informed in 2011 of a safety defect in the electronic power steering of several models.
  • Despite 4,800 consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty repairs,  GM waited until 2015 to fully disclose this defect. Recall letters for some vehicles, such as the Malibu, were continuing to be received in September of 2015.
  • Some people believe that General Motor’s claims about its own conduct in connection with the Ignition Switch Defect are also false. While GM claimed that it was unaware that the unintended movement of the ignition switch in its cars rendered the front airbags inoperable until shortly before the 2014 recall, it has now been forced to admit the contrary.
  • In the Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the United States,  GM finally began to come clean and admitted that, at least by the spring of 2012, it was fully aware that the Ignition Switch Defect rendered airbags inoperable, and that a recall was required. Plaintiffs in cases pending all over this country believe that GM had more than enough knowledge that the Ignition Switch Defect was a safety defect such that it should have done a recall in 2009.
  • GM has now effectively admitted that the Ignition Switch Defect alone is responsible for at least 124 deaths – and GM bears responsibility for all the deaths that occurred on its watch after July 11, 2009.
  • But there is more. GM did not act alone. From as early as its inception and no later than 2010, GM, including its legal department, other outside law firms handling cases where airbags did not deploy and the car was in the accessory position, its outside counsel, its claims administrator ESIS, and other unnamed law firms, were all aware of a serious safety defect in the Ignition Switch such that “the facts … could provide fertile ground for laying the foundation for an award of punitive damages.”
  • Despite this awareness,  GM and its accomplices, using the mails and wires, worked to keep this defect secret. New GM hid the defect from NHTSA, and its accomplices went along with the cover-up and worked to confidentially settle all cases where evidence of the defect would be made public if the case did not settle.
  • GM, its in-house lawyers, and others were aware that victims were being kept in the dark about an ignition switch defect because the crash recorder indicated the vehicle was in the “Run” position when in fact GM engineers and its outside expert concluded the recorder was in error and the vehicle was in “Accessory.” All were aware of GM’s reporting obligations to NHTSA.
  • GM and those helping it, knowingly or unknowingly, participated or assisted in New GM’s scheme to conceal this defect from the public. And GM has admitted that it purposefully delayed recalling cars and disclosing the Ignition Switch Defect until a solution was “affordable” and until New GM could “package” the recall in a fashion that GM thought was palatable. These are all facts known and made public through, among other things, pleadings on file in the Southern District of New York’s MDL cases.
  • GM’s now highly publicized campaign of deception in connection with the Ignition Switch Defect first revealed in February 2014 sent shockwaves throughout the country. Unfortunately for all owners of vehicles manufactured or sold as Certified Pre-Owned vehicles by New GM, the Ignition Switch Defect announced in February 2014 was only one of a parade of recalls in 2014 – many concerning safety defects that had long been known to New GM.
  • On May 16, 2014, General Motors entered into a Consent Order with NHTSA in which it admitted that it violated the TREAD Act by not disclosing the Ignition Switch Defect, and agreed to pay the maximum available civil penalties for its violations.
  • GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, has admitted in a video message that: “Something went wrong with our process…, and terrible things happened.” But that admission is cold comfort for Plaintiffs who have suffered injuries, many of which were catastrophic, or even death, as a result of GM’s deception.
  • GM alleged  systematically and repeatedly breached its obligations and duties to its GM customers and Ignition Switch Vehicle owners to make truthful and full disclosures concerning GM vehicles – particularly, the safety, quality, and reliability of its vehicles, and the importance of safety and quality to the Company.
  • GM’s  alleged false representations and/or omissions concerning the safety and reliability of those vehicles, and its alleged concealment of a plethora of known safety defects plaguing those vehicles caused Plaintiffs to purchase GM vehicles and caused owners of Ignition Switch Vehicles to retain and use defective vehicles and thereby incur life-threatening, life-altering permanent injuries – if not deaths – which allegedly could have been prevented had GM been honest with the public and the government.

Background of the Electronic Power Steering Defect and Recall

  • As used in this Petition, the “Subject Vehicles with Defective EPS” refers to the GM vehicles sold in the United States equipped at the time of sale with power steering (the “EPS”) sharing a common, uniform, and defective design, including, but perhaps not limited to, the following makes and model years:
  • 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt
  • 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2007-2010 Pontiac G5
  • 2004-2005 Chevrolet Malibu
  • Some 2006-2009 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2004-2005 Malibu Maxx
  • Some 2006 Malibu Maxx
  • Some 2009-2010 Chevrolet HHR (Non-Turbo)
  • Some 2008-2009 Saturn Aura
  • 2005 Pontiac G6
  • Some 2006, 2008-2009 Pontiac G6
  • Service parts installed into certain vehicles before May 31, 2010, under the previous recall

When EPS fails, the sudden loss of power steering changes the vehicle’s expected or historical response to a known input by the driver. The assist provided in turning the steering is lost, requiring greater force input at the steering wheel by the driver to achieve the desired vehicle movement. This effect of power steering loss is more substantial at lower speeds, but nonetheless still occurs at higher speeds, such as at highway speedThe effect of power steering loss would be magnified in a situation where larger steering inputs are required by the driver in order to maintain control of the vehicle, such as in a road departure with loss of control potential.

According to independent testing conducted by engineers with a Saturn Ion (a sister vehicle to the Cobalt), at 40 mph the force required by the driver in the event of a power steering loss is at least three (3) times as great and up to five (5) times as great depending upon the magnitude of the steer input compared to when the power steering is working. Although the argument is commonly made (by  GM and others) that the vehicle can still be steered and controlled, the historical or habitual vehicle response to known levels of force input at the steering wheel are necessarily altered. Simply put, the vehicle response and handling is changed, this defect becomes deadly.

What the driver has come to expect in terms of how much force to apply to navigate a curve, for example, suddenly and unexpectedly requires more force. This may cause the driver to run off the road and then, realizing that more force than ever is required to right the vehicle, the driver may “overcorrect” and run off the road in the other direction. Overcorrect is an unfortunate and misleading word which implies driver error. In these cases, nothing could be further from the truth. The driver suddenly, unexpectedly encountered a steering failure at a time she needs it the most – round a curve, for example – and must try to adjust at that moment. Moreover, as experts note, the amount of force required varies and cannot be known without experimentation. But the driver of a car which has lost its full steering functionality does not have that luxury. She is at the mercy of this defective vehicle and it frequently ends very badly for the driver.

EPS Problems Known in 2004

According to the chronology  GM submitted to NHTSA  dated April 17, 2014, to a letter[9]: On March 30, 2004, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) opened a Preliminary Evaluation (“PE”) related to 2004 model year (“MY”) Chevrolet Malibu vehicles, including the Malibu Maxx. The basis for the PE was the possible failure, malfunction, or otherwise unsatisfactory performance of the EPS system in these vehicles. On April 5, 2004, NHTSA issued an Information Request (“IR”) to GM concerning the Malibu and, in addition, requested information relating to the 2004 MY Saturn ION, which NHTSA believed used a similar EPS system. GM provided responses to the IR on May 18, 2004.

As reflected in NHTSA’s closing report, GM identified two factors that contributed to the alleged EPS defect: (1) contamination of the torque and position sensor (components of the EPS system) from the separation of grease applied to the steering column assembly; and (2) electrical noise generated on the power and ground slip ring surfaces of the torque sensor supplied by Furukawa. In February 2004, supplier Delphi (which, in part, later became Nexteer) replaced the Furukawa torque sensors with torque sensors manufactured by BI Technologies Corporation (“BI”).

An analysis by NHTSA indicated that failure rates continued to occur in Malibu vehicles, and on July 1, 2004, NHTSA upgraded its investigation to an Engineering Analysis (“EA”). That EA (EA04-018) applied only to Malibu vehicles because no similar trend was noted for the ION. In November 2004, GM announced a Customer Satisfaction program (Bulletin 04050), which was revised in December 2004 (Bulletin 04050A). The program addressed the power steering assist in 2004 Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx vehicles and instructed dealers to inspect and, if necessary, replace the steering column.

On May 10, 2005, NHTSA closed EA04-018. NHTSA’s reasons for closing the EA, as noted in its closing report, included GM’s Customer Satisfaction program and findings from the Vehicle Research and Test Center that “[t]he impact on the driver’s ability to control these relatively small and light vehicles was limited.”

It is now known that GM’s decision-making with regard to this matter was flawed. It is also now known that New GM was well-aware of these problems but independently decided not to remedy them. It would be a very long time before the affected vehicles were recalled and, even then, the recalls issued by New GM would have to be repeatedly expanded as New GM made the decision time and again to hide the true nature of the defects and how many affected makes and model years there were. Defective auto attorneys argue that GM is still not being honest about the extent of the effect of the EPS defect.

EPS Problems Known in 2007

According to the same chronology GM submitted to NHTSA, it detailed what went on from 2007-2008 as follows:

  • On April 25, 2007, NHTSA opened a PE investigation (PE07-023) related to 2005-2006 MY Pontiac G6 vehicles. The basis for the PE was the possible loss of power steering assist due to an insufficient crimp at the torque and position sensor located in the steering column assembly. On May 16, 2007, NHTSA issued an IR to GM, to which the company provided responses on June 26, 2007.
  • GM had assigned a Field Performance Evaluation (“FPE”) investigator to review the loss of EPS issue in June 2007. That investigation culminated in a Special Coverage in December 2007 covering 2005 MY Chevrolet Malibu, Malibu Maxx, and Pontiac G6 vehicles (Bulletin 07126). The Special Coverage provided an extended warranty for a period of 7 years or 70,000 miles. Dealers were instructed to replace the steering column assembly.
  • NHTSA closed PE07-023 on September 25, 2007, explaining in its closing resume that “[t]he subject vehicles use the same EPS system as the MY 2004 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles investigated by ODI in EA04-018. Although the failure rates are high in this investigation, particularly for the peak months, they are significantly lower than for the Malibu vehicles investigated in EA 04-018. As in those vehicles, the effects on steering effort are small at speeds greater than 15-20 mph. Accordingly, this investigation is closed.”
  • Again, GM is denying that there are problems at higher speeds which has been shown to be untrue. Again, GM is kicking the can down the road to the detriment of innocent drivers and passengers across America. GM’s solution is to extend a warranty which does nothing to alert owners to the defect. Only after a problem is encountered will warranty work need to be done – and in many cases – the defect is not noticed until a driver is careening off the road to their peril.
  •  GM Sues Its EPS Component Manufacturer in August of 2009, Tells the Press and Public that There Is No Safety Problem, But Leaves This Detail Out of Its Chronology to NHTSA which Admits that GM and Its Component Manufacturer Were Investigating Steering Power Failures at the Same Time

GM knew that EPS components were defective prior to the March 2010 recall (to be discussed more fully below) – and how widespread it would be – because it sued the manufacturer of its power steering components in these vehicles in August of 2009.[10] News from November 23, 2009, reported that New GM sued JTEKT North America, Inc. and a subsidiary for providing it with faulty electric power steering components that New GM alleged cost it more than $30 million. JTEKT answered and defended based on, among other things, claiming that the power steering components met GM specifications and testing requirements that GM gave it.[11] This is all very reminiscent of the Ignition Switch defect issue.

Those same news reports in 2009 listed New GM makes and models that were not included in the March 2010 recall, such as the Malibu, but which would eventually be included in much, much later recalls. JTEKT and GM both contended that the defects did not affect an operator’s ability to control the vehicle, but the problem was merely a noise issue.[12] Even more disturbing is that GM spokesman Alan Adler said in November of 2009 that the steering systems that New GM was suing over being defective were “not considered a safety issue.”

  • As early as November 24, 2009, news reports observed, despite  GM’s pleadings carefully avoiding anything other than “noise issues,” that “[i]t is unclear if the suit will also address steering power failures and lockups reported by owners.”[13]
  • What neither  GM nor JTEKT admitted at the time, was that despite the fact that they were engaged in litigation against each other, they were also engaged in a joint investigation regarding lost power steering in a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. This became public knowledge only after GM was being investigated as to its delay in recalling defective vehicles. In the same Chronology GM submitted to NHTSA, it admitted:
  1. On January 26, 2009, GM’s Chairman received a letter from a customer regarding the loss of power steering in a 2005 Cobalt. The letter was forwarded to GM’s Vice President for Global Quality and an FPE investigator was assigned to the issue the next day. In March and April 2009, GM reviewed data relating to loss of EPS assist in the Cobalt and requested information and returned parts from dealers.
  2. On May 12, 2009, the issue was discussed at a weekly Internal Status Review (“ISR”) meeting.
  3. On June 9, 2009, the EPS issue was moved to “monitor” status for purposes of the FPE investigation due to a low rate of warranty claims and a lack of an identified root cause. GM engineers and EPS supplier JTEKT continued to investigate the root cause, and GM continued to monitor warranty claims.
  4. In July 2009, [New] GM and JTEKT identified the root cause of the EPS issue in Delta platform vehicles as oil contamination or intrusion within the motor case. When oil separates from the grease in the steering shaft and flows into the motor case, particles from the motor brush mix with the oil and can form a conductive paste between the commutator segments. That conductive material causes the EPS module to interpret a short. In response, the EPS assist is disabled, and the vehicle reverts to a manual steering mode until the next ignition cycle. The diagnostic settings in the Cobalt made it more susceptible to triggering the diagnostic code than other vehicles on the Delta platform. If the power steering assist is lost, a message is displayed on the Driver Information Center and a chime sounds to inform the driver.
  5. In September 2009, JTEKT identified use of sealed bearings in the motor as a possible corrective action. A sealed bearing would block the migration of oil and grease into the motor case. A work order for the sealed bearing was opened on September 23, 2009, and the new design was tested and validated from October through December 2009.
  6. In the interim, GM observed an increase in warranty claims and Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (“VOQs”) relating to loss of EPS assist. As a result, the FPE investigation was reinstated to active status in October 2009.
  7. JTEKT began production of a new motor with sealed bearings in December 2009. These bearings were incorporated into Cobalt and HHR vehicles in March 2010 and April 2010, respectively.

New GM observed an increase in warranty claims…relating to loss of EPS assist.” But GM did not recall the vehicles.  GM did not alert its customers who were driving around a ticking time bomb.  GM did not monitor complaints about accidents or injuries. It monitored warranty claims, but that does not provide the full picture which New GM knows.  GM is also incorrect that a chime sounds and a message is displayed each time EPS is lost. Numerous complaints on NHTSA report that drivers lost EPS with no warning whatsoever. Drivers knew they lost steering when they were running off of the road, driving into oncoming traffic, were in an accident, or hit a tree.

GM’s pattern and practice of hiding or ignoring deadly defects for over a decade in a stunning number of its makes and models of vehicles leaves no room for any benefit of the doubt. Time and time again, GM has ALLEGEDLY  let consumers pay with their lives and limbs while it failed to meet its duties to the public who not only purchased its products in good faith, but bailed it out to the tune of billions of dollars which the American public could not afford, did not recoup – and never will.

  • The Initial & Limited March 10, 2010 Recall for Defective EPS
  • On March 10, 2010, New GM recalled certain model year 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt and model year 2007-2010 Pontiac G5 vehicles (as well as a model that was sold only in Canada and one sold only in Mexico) equipped with electric (sometimes referred to as electronic) power steering (“EPS”).
  • This limited recall came after 1,100 complaints were made about sudden loss of power steering in these compact cars
  • The recall at that time impacted some 1.3 million vehicles.
  • In some reports, New GM admitted that the loss of power steering could occur at “any time” while in others, it dismissed complaints of power steering loss in vehicles traveling over 15 mph and/or denied that any impact on steering would occur at higher speeds.[14] In some reports, and based on a number of documents as to what New GM’s story to NHTSA was, New GM denied any problems would be encountered at speeds over 30 mph.
  • Incredibly, in at least one report by the AP, New GM stated that the vehicles were still safe to drive and “never lose their steering, but it may be harder to steer when traveling under 15 mph.”[15] That is not what numerous people experienced.
  • As reported by the AP, “[New] GM spokesman Alan Adler said the failure rates are rare and the cars can still be driven until motors can be replaced by dealers.” (Emphasis added.) This would prove to be completely untrue.
  • However, NHTSA began investigating New GM in January of 2010 after receiving 1,100 complaints that the cars lost their power steering. The complaints – at that time – included 14 crashes and one injury.
  • A search of NHTSA’s online database demonstrates that complaints of steering problems began by at least 2008 and New GM now admits that it received complaints as early as 2004.
  • New GM admitted in its Chronology to NHTSA under the 2010 heading:
  • On January 27, 2010, NHTSA opened PE10-005 to assess the frequency, scope, and safety consequences of alleged loss of power steering in 2005-2009 MY Cobalt vehicles. On February 17, 2010, GM received an IR from NHTSA for the Cobalt, as well as certain “peer vehicles,” i.e. the 2005-2009 MY Saturn ION, Chevrolet Malibu, and Pontiac G6.
  • On March 1, 2010, the Executive Field Action Decision Committee (“EFADC”) met at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds, where GM personnel were able to drive a vehicle that simulated the spontaneous loss of assist. That day, the EFADC made a determination to conduct a safety recall for certain Delta platform vehicles: the 2005-2010 MY Chevrolet Cobalt, 2005-2006 MY Pontiac G4, 2005-2006 MY Pontiac Pursuit (Canada), and 2007- 2010 MY Pontiac G5 vehicles.
  • GM informed NHTSA by telephone of the recall decision the same day. This was the first time GM treated loss of power steering assist as a safety issue. Previous issues were treated with either Customer Satisfaction programs or through extended warranty coverage. During the March 1 telephone call, NHTSA advised that unsold vehicles should be held until a fix was implemented. A stop sale/stop delivery of unrepaired vehicles subject to the recall was issued on March 2. Also on March 2, a Notice of Defect (“NOD”) letter was issued by GM Canada.
  • A safety recall bulletin was released on March 19, 2010 (Bulletin 10023). In light of the safety recall, GM was not required to answer NHTSA’s full information request from February. However, on March 8, 2010, NHTSA emailed GM a list of questions from its February 17 letter that still required GM’s response. GM provided that response on April 14, 2010.
  • GM and JTEKT continued to investigate the oil intrusion issue. In addition to the sealed bearing, work orders were initiated to seal certain holes, move other holes, and add an “oil slinger.” Motors with these additional fixes were incorporated in vehicles beginning in May and June 2010.
  • In June 2010, GM updated the March 2010 safety recall bulletin for the Cobalt, Pursuit, G4 and G5 vehicles. Bulletins 10023B and 10023C updated the parts information and service procedure sections of the original March bulletin (10023).
  • On June 18, 2010, the EFADC approved a Special Coverage for the 2004-2007 MY ION. The Special Coverage applied to both the United States and Canada and extended warranty coverage for the EPS to 10 years or 100,000 miles (Bulletin 10187). Dealers were instructed to replace the power steering motor.
  • Also on June 18, 2010, the EFADC approved a Special Coverage for the 2005–2006 and 2008 MY Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx, 2005–2006 and 2008 MY Pontiac G6, and the 2008 MY Saturn AURA (Bulletin 10183). The Special Coverage provided an extended warranty for a period of 10 years or 100,000 miles. For 2005–2006 MY vehicles, dealers were instructed to replace the steering column. For 2008 MY vehicles, dealers were instructed to replace the power steering motor and control module.
  • On July 19, 2010, GM met with NHTSA officials in Washington, DC to discuss the recent actions with regard to EPS for the Cobalt, ION, Malibu, and G6. GM relayed to NHTSA officials why it believed the June 18 Special Coverage was the appropriate course of action. During that meeting, GM presented information regarding the Cobalt, and reviewed its continued analysis of EPS performance on the ION and Malibu/G6 using revised analytic techniques. GM noted that loss of power steering assist historically had been treated by the auto industry in the U.S. and other countries as a Special Coverage or Customer Satisfaction issue because manual steering control is maintained. GM further noted that the Cobalt was handled in a different manner based on GM’s desire to obtain quick resolution and closure of NHTSA’s investigation. The same day, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation closed PE10-005, citing GM’s safety recall.
  • New GM announced a very limited recall even though it now admits that it knew that many other makes and model years were affected. It provided “Special Coverage” – increased warranties – but those only are used when the problem is noticed by the driver. That is not helpful at all to the driver who experiences loss of control and an accident the first time steering is lost.
  • New GM also demonstrates how it sought to address things in ways to avoid answering questions and avoid keeping NHTSA investigations open.
  • New GM also admits that it failed to recall and consider this a safety issue because, in essence, “that’s the way it’s always been done” as if this were a get out of jail free card. But the fact that it was ultimately treated as something more than a mere nuisance to drivers demonstrates that despite the fact that New GM still does not admit the extent to which steering is lost, it is a much bigger problem than merely losing an “assist.”
  • In addition, when New GM first announced this limited recall, it was still preparing a remedy for replacing the motors in affected vehicles. Owners were left to wait, driving their defective, dangerous cars, with the extent of the danger still hidden, and no remedy in sight.
  • Eventually, it would be admitted that the remedy that New GM implemented was itself as defective as the recall which failed to alert owners to every affected make and model of the vehicle.
  • On July 17, 2010, NHTSA released a ODI Resume closing its six-month investigation into GM on this matter. In part, NHTSA’s findings were heavily reliant on what New GM “believes.” The report concluded: “[New] GM assessed crash claims based on available acts and excluded crash claims that indicated that the vehicle was traveling at speeds in the range of 30 mph or greater. [New] GM said that it believes if power assist is lost while a vehicle is moving at speeds in the range of 30 mph or greater there is a small difference in power steering efforts perceived in subject evaluations at those speeds and it is unlikely to lead to loss of vehicle control. Based on [New]GM’s safety recall, this investigation is closed.”
  • “[New] GM believes” therefore relevant data was dismissed. Not “[New] GM can prove,” but merely “[New] GM believes” and that was virtually all that was necessary to close the investigation.
  • “ODI’s analysis of all crash claims was based on verifiable factors such as whether a loss of EPS was indicated at the time of the crash by a chime or malfunction indicator lamp or if a EPS related component malfunction was identified after the crash. With this method ODI identified 36 possible crashes related to EPS failure.”
  • However, there are many reports that a chime or malfunction lamp was not always heard or seen by the driver prior to an accident where power steering was lost. Thus, ODI also omitted relevant data from its analysis.
  • Evidence exists that power steering is lost at higher speeds and that when it is, a greater effort is required by the driver to compensate. That will be discussed below in the section on the recently filed case of Kristin Hopkins v. GM.
  • NHTSA would come to realize that it could not rely on auto manufacturers’ beliefs after the defect debacles that became so horribly apparent in 2014 and 2015.[16]
  • 2011: The Saturn Ion Is Defective, Investigated, but Not Recalled
  • On October 3, 2011, NHTSA announced that it was “increase[ing] its investigation into certain Saturn Ion models into a full-blown engineering analysis.”[17]
  • This was based on power steering systems reported to fail creating an “increase in steering effort [which] could result in some loss of control and a crash.”[18]
  • eports at this time noted that the defect in the Saturn Ions was the same as the previously recalled the Cobalt and Pontiac G5’s.[19]
  • At this time, 16 crashes had been reported, two of which resulted in injuries.
  • No recall was ordered by NHTSA. No decision to voluntarily recall the Saturn was made by New GM.
  • New GM’s Chronology to NHTSA is careful to avoid any discussion of a recall for the Saturn although it is known that they are “peer vehicles” to the ones already recalled. The delay, the concealment, the danger all continue for unsuspecting consumers.
  • 2012: Still No Recalls for All Affected Vehicles
  • New GM collected data for the 2004-2007 Saturn Ion and met with NHTSA according to New GM’s Chronology.
  • However, all that New GM did was report on its Special Coverage for the Ion which it claimed “had a significant impact on loss of assist rates and that it was assessing whether to increase coverage to 150,000 miles and whether to include HHR vehicles.”
  • As we now know, both of these vehicles were eventually recalled. It is only logical that had the Special Coverage been sufficient, no recall would have been necessary. But accidents continued to happen for the reasons already stated. Consumers were still not informed of this admitted safety issue.
  • 2013: Still No Recalls for All Affected Vehicles
  • New GM’s Chronology for this year states in part: “[New] GM continued to monitor warranty and VOQ data relating to the EPS issue in Delta and Epsilon vehicles in 2013. From August through September 2013, [New] GM updated its data and analysis. [New] GM observed an increase in warranty rates and in vehicle complaints to NHTSA.” (Emphasis added.)
  • This is critical because NHTSA complaints are often where one sees the data about injuries, crashes, and even deaths. It stands to reason that this would not necessarily correspond with warranty claims because so often these vehicles in the NHTSA complaints were totaled. No warranty work would be claimed or performed at that point.
  • This also shows that although there were increased complaints and warranty claims (for the lucky ones), New GM made no move to recall the affected vehicles. It simply sat by watching the number of crashes and injuries climb. Consumers were treated as expendable parts of an experiment or annoying problem that, in time, New GM apparently hoped would go away.
  • 2014: It All Comes Crashing Down for New GM
  • The moment of greater (although not absolute) truth had approached for New GM by 2014. Still reeling from the Ignition Switch recall which ultimately was larger than initially admitted (as is nearly always the case, especially with New GM), news came down that there were other known defects that had long gone unacknowledged, unpublicized, and not recalled.
  • What explains this delay? Other than avoiding the obvious – being held accountable through litigation and government penalties for its wrongdoing – many have pointed to GM’s absurd “committee alphabet soup.”[20] New GM described its process in the aforementioned Chronology to NHTSA this way:
  • In early 2014, GM continued to gather and review data with regard to EPS issues and gather return warranty parts for evaluation.
  • On March 19, 2014, GM began to assemble a collaboration room to review data regarding EPS issues with the Cobalt, ION, HHR, Malibu, G6 and AURA, and examine returned parts.
  • An FPERC [Field Product Evaluation Recommendation Committee][21] meeting was convened on March 24, 2014 to discuss the EPS issues. A follow-up FPERC meeting was held on March 26, 2014. The FPERC made recommendations for the EFADC [Executive Field Action Decision Committee], which also met on March 26, immediately following the FPERC meeting. Two of the three EFADC members were present at the meeting. They discussed the FPERC’s recommendations and expanded the vehicle population recommended by the FPERC for field action.
  • On March 27, 2014, the third EFADC member was briefed on the EPS issues and agreed with the preliminary determinations made by the other two EFADC members.
  • Accordingly, the EFADC decided to issue recalls with regard to certain vehicles and provide a Special Coverage for others.
  • Since March 28, 2014, GM has continued to review VOQs [Vehicle Owner Questionnaires] and other sources of customer claims relating to the vehicles subject to the EFADC’s recall decision.
  • On March 31, 2014, GM submitted a 573 letter to NHTSA advising NHTSA of the EFADC’s March 27 decision to conduct a safety recall.
  • This 2014 recall for the power assisting defect is reported to have affected 1.5 million vehicles worldwide.[22] It noted that the “electronic power-steering assist can suddenly stop working, making [vehicles] harder to steer.”[23]
  • At the time the recall was announced, New GM claimed there were no deaths associated with the defect and that it was still investigating as to whether there had been any accidents or injuries. Recourse to NHTSA would show that this is false and that crashes, injuries, and deaths have been reported after a sudden loss of steering in the affected vehicles.
  • New GM was still claiming that a message would display on the dashboard and a chime would sound. Complaints on NHTSA show that this is not always the case.
  • News reports noted that greater driver effort would be required, especially at lower speeds, but New GM – despite evidence to the contrary – maintains that is only the case at lower speeds.
  • As Car & Driver noted, “the sudden shift in steering effort could lead to a crash.”[24]
  • The fix for this recall was complex. It might involve replacing either the power steering motor, the steering column, the steering unit, or a combination of all three. This was significantly more complex than the recalls in the past on this defect, which probably explains why some already recalled and “fixed” vehicles were “re-recalled.”
  • Reports immediately began to question why it took so long to recall these vehicles, especially the Saturn Ion, when reports concerning steering issues with it began to appear at NHTSA in 2004.[25] Further, that same reported noted that the first injury accident for the Saturn Ion was reported in 2007. It also noted that NHTSA closed its investigation into the Saturn Ion because New GM had recalled it.
  • In the Chronology cited throughout, New GM noted (admitted) that it issued a recall at least once to close out a NHTSA investigation.
  • The news report also said, “The number of complaints and claims with the power steering issue appears to be high when compared with other recent recalls that were preceded by NHTSA investigations.”
  • New GM had to know this as well, but New GM made the decision to fail and refuse to recall vehicles sooner.
  • It is only reasonable to expect that the full extent of the defect issues has yet to be admitted as well.
  • In June of 2014, New GM had to recall some of the recalled and “fixed” vehicles because “the fix wasn’t good enough.”[26] This included the Chevrolet Cobalt that had been recalled in 2010, but that recall was limited.
  • 2015: Still More Older Vehicles Left to Recall for EPS Defects
  • In something that defies reason, New GM still had older vehicles left to recall for this same EPS defect in 2015. Even after the 2014 defect debacles and investigations, promises by New GM that it was “changing its culture” and more concerned about safety than ever, it had to recall the 2006-2007 Malibu and Malibu Maxx, and Pontiac G6 models built between April and June 2006, but did not do so until February 2015. The recall noted that the EPS could fail at any time.
  • Yet again, New GM’s tactics and honesty are called into question. How can anything it says or does be trusted? Hundreds have trusted their lives to New GM and have paid the price with everything ranging from minor to catastrophic injuries to death.
  • A Quick Overview of Just Some NHTSA Complaints Regarding Steering Loss
  • Looking to the complaints on NHTSA’s database reveal a far different story than what New GM has told the public. By this time, that should not be surprising, but it is still a demonstration of how New GM still does not get it with regard to honesty and public safety.
  • Just looking to the affected Chevrolet Cobalt alone, one finds that for the 2005 Cobalt, there were 1,485 complaints total of which 1,047 were steering related, or 70.5% of the complaints made about this vehicle included a complaint regarding steering. Of these steering complaints, 48 included a report of a crash, 25 included a report of one or more injuries, and six (6) complaints reported one or more deaths. Importantly, contrary to what New GM claims, at least 16 of these complaints involved speeds over 30 mph. Incredibly, five (5) complaints came after recall work was performed or after repair work was done on the steering mechanism.
  • The 2006 Cobalt also fared terribly. Of 1,997 complaints to NHTSA total, 1,126 were steering related, or 56%. Of these steering complaints, 72 involved a crash, 29 complaints reported one or more injuries, and three (3) complaints regarding steering reported one or more deaths. In addition, at least 31 steering loss complaints involved speeds over 30 mph. At least five (5) complaints came after recall work was performed or after repair work was done on the steering mechanism.
  • The 2007 Cobalt received 1,242 complaints total, of which 552 involved steering, or 44%. Of those steering related complaints, 55 reported crashes, 32 reported one or more injuries, and two (2) reported one or more deaths. At least 21 steering related complaints involved speeds over 30 mph. A few complaints noted braking problems as well.
  • One complaint about the 2007 Cobalt made August 14, 2013, reported that five (5) people were injured and two (2) died in just one complaint. The driver was driving on an interstate so it can be reasonably assumed she was driving at highway speeds over 30 mph. The report states: “…the fact that her wrist was snapped back resulting in a serious compound fracture suggests that the vehicle violently and suddenly jerked under her control. We know the Chevy Cobalt vehicles are under investigation for ‘steering problems’ by the NHTSA and the investigation was closed in 2010. With these fatalities perhaps it is time to review your previous findings.”
  • The 2008 Cobalt had 552 total complaints, with 202 of those about steering, or 37%. Of those steering related complaints, 35 involved crashes, 17 reported one or more injuries, and seven (7) reported one or more deaths. In 2008 Chevrolet also had a Cobalt SS. It received 89 complaints, two (2) of which involved steering.
  • In 2009, the Cobalt had 370 total complaints of which 127 were steering related. Of the 127 steering related complaints, 25 reported a crash, 12 complaints reported one or more injuries, and two (2) reported one or more deaths. The 2009 Cobalt SS had 180 total complaints of which four (4) involved steering and two (2) of those steering related complaints reported a crash and two (2) reported one or more injuries.
  • The 2010 Cobalt received 337 total complaints of which 181 involved steering. Of the steering related complaints, 16 reported crashes and nine (9) reported one or more injuries. The 2010 Cobalt SS received seven (7) complaints total of which three (3) involved steering.
  • Perhaps one of the worst accidents in a vehicle recalled for this steering defect involved a 2008 Pontiac G5. A complaint filed with NHTSA on March 11, 2010, in a cruel irony, the day after New GM issued its first limited recall for this defect, the following complaint was filed:
  • APPROACHING A BUSY INTERSECTION, MY PONTIAC G5’S BRAKES FAILED TO WORK. I COULD TELL THE HYDRAULICS SYSTEMS WAS WORKING AS I COULD HEAR METAL ON METAL BUT IT DID NOTHING TO SLOW DOWN THE VEHICLE. THE VEHICLE’S CDR SHOWED THE VEHICLE ACCELERATING AT FULL THROTTLE ALTHOUGH I KNOW MY FOOT WAS ON THE BRAKE PEDAL AS EVIDENCED BY THE METAL ON METAL SOUND. PLUS A WITNESS SAW SMOKE COMING FROM MY VEHICLE. I WAS ABLE TO TURN PRIOR TO GOING THROUGH THE INTERSECTION AND AIMED FOR A FIRE HYDRANT TO TRY TO SLOW DOWN. IT DID NOTHING TO SLOW THE VEHICLE, I TRIED TO TURN RIGHT TO JOIN THE TRAFFIC DIRECTION, BUT THE STEERING DID NOT WORK. I THEN HIT ANOTHER VEHICLE. *TR (Bold emphasis added; all caps is the format used for NHTSA complaints.)
  • This complaint reported that there were six (6) injuries and five (5) deaths.
  • For New GM to claim that there were not even any reports or complaints of injuries or deaths at various times is outrageous considering the evidence in the public domain.
  • SAMPLE CAUSES OF ACTION
  • STRICT LIABILITY
  • Defendants designed, manufactured, and/or sold the Subject Vehicles, including THE 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt, with design, manufacturing, and/or marketing defects, more particularly set forth herein. New GM has expressly assumed these product liabilities claims – that is, “all product liability claims arising from accidents or other discrete incidents arising from the operation of GM vehicles occurring subsequent to the closing of the 363 Transaction [July 10, 2009], regardless of when the product was purchased.” (Decision at p. 24-25 citing Sale Agreement Sec. 2.3(a). (Italics by Court; bold underlined emphasis by Plaintiff.)
  • Marketing Defect and Failure to Warn – New GM was fully aware of the dangers and risks associated with the GM vehicles and Plaintiff’s vehicle and consciously and independently made the decision(s) after July 10, 2009, to not warn  any  owners of defective vehicles of the dangers associated with them. New GM made the decision not to recall the vehicles or otherwise remedy the defective nature of them – decisions which in no way relied upon Old GM. Defendants designed, manufactured, and/or sold the Subject Vehicle, with one or more marketing defects:
  • There was an unreasonable risk in the intended or reasonably foreseeable use of such automobile in that the above defects  COULD resulted in unexpected power loss in the vehicle, causing physical injury and death – known by all Defendants including New GM;
  • Defendants, including New GM, knew, foresaw, or should have known and foreseen the above risk;
  • Defendants, including New GM (which acted wrongfully and independently of Old GM), failed to adequately warn VICTIMS of the above risks, failed to adequately instruct victims how to avoid the above dangers, or both; in New GM’s case, this failure to act occurred after July 10, 2009, as a result of New GM’s own independent decision-making process.
  • The Subject Vehicle was in this defective condition.
  • New GM did not in any way ensure that Plaintiff received a recall notice about the defective EPS or warn consumers of the problematic and defective steering. Not only that, but New GM in 2014 recalled the recall work from 2010 in its Cobalt and HHR vehicles.
  • Moreover, the notifications that New GM did send out in 2010 (after New GM came into existence) – and the line that New GM continues to use – is that the defective power steering is not a problem at speeds greater than 15-30 mph. This is demonstrably false.
  • Design Defect – Defendants designed, manufactured, and/or sold Vehicles, with one or more design defects,  including an Ignition Switch Defect that resulted in unexpected power loss, and attendant EPS defect that resulted in unexpected loss of power steering, and a lack of Electronic Stability Control (“ESC”)
  •  Defendants designed the Vehicles and knew of safer alternative designs that existed at the time of production that would have prevented or significantly reduced the above risks without substantially impairing the vehicle’s utility, and was economically and technologically feasible at the time that  Vehicle left Defendants’ control by the application of existing or reasonably achievable scientific knowledge.
  • Defendants were negligent in designing, manufacturing, and/or selling the Subject Vehicle, with one or more design defects, more particularly set forth above, including the Ignition Switch Defect that resulted in unexpected power loss, and attendant EPS defect that resulted in unexpected loss of power steering, and the lack of Electronic Stability Control (“ESC”) that would reduce the risk of loss of vehicle control. (See Exhibit A.)
  • Defendants owed motorists a duty to exercise ordinary care in designing, manufacturing, marketing, testing, selling and distributing the automobiles in question; and to discover dangerous propensities of its product. Defendants failed to exercise ordinary care in designing, manufacturing, marketing, testing, selling and distributing the Subject Vehicle which had the defective Ignition Switch and defective EPS and the Subject Vehicles in question.
  • Defendants breached their duties to Plaintiff by designing, manufacturing, marketing, testing, selling and distributing the Subject Vehicle with a latent dangerous defect in the Ignition Switch, and attendant EPS defect that resulted in unexpected loss of power steering, and lack of Electronic Stability Control and/or by failing to warn of the defects (which conduct by New GM is independently wrongful and this claim as to New GM does not rely upon Old GM’s wrongful conduct for the reasons set forth above and/or by failing to adopt a safer, practical, feasible or otherwise reasonable alternative design that could have then been reasonably adopted to prevent or substantially reduce the risk of harm without substantially impairing the usefulness, practicality, or desirability of the Subject Vehicle.
  • New GM, apart from, separate from, independently of, and on its own accord after July 10, 2009, made the following material misrepresentations:
  • Representing the Subject Vehicles as being safe at the same time New GM knew the they were defective in multiple ways in that they are subject to sudden power loss and catastrophic personal injuries;
  •  Manufacturing Defect – Defendants designed, manufactured, and/or sold the Subject Vehicle, with one or more manufacturing defects, more particularly set forth above.  The Subject Vehicle with both defects manufactured by Defendants deviates, in its construction or quality, from the specifications or planned output in a manner that renders the automobiles unreasonably dangerous
  • Unreasonably Dangerous – The manufacturing defects, marketing defects, or both, rendered the Subject Vehicle with both defects, unreasonably dangerous by making the automobile dangerous to an extent beyond that which would be contemplated by the ordinary consumer with the knowledge common to the community as to its characteristics. New GM was aware of the unreasonably dangerous nature of the vehicle but failed to recall or otherwise warn consumersof the danger to them and the general public.  The design defects, or any of them, rendered the Subject Vehicle unreasonably dangerous as designed, considering the utility of the automobile and the risks involved in its use.
  • New GM also determined when it would recall the defective vehicles, the scope of the recall, and how consumers would be notified. New GM made the decision not to recall many vehicles for the defective Ignition Switch until March 2014. New GM also made the decision not to recall the vehicle for the defective power steering until May of 2014 and August of 2014.
  • Defendants designed, manufactured, marketed, distributed, and sold the Subject Vehicle to be unreasonably dangerous and defective within the meaning of Section 402A Restatement (Second) Torts in that the Subject Vehicle were unreasonably dangerous as designed, marketed, manufactured, or any of them. Specifically, the Subject Vehicle contained an Ignition Switch that was defective, inferior and inadequately designed, marketed, and manufactured, and attendant EPS which was defective, inferior, and inadequately designed, marketed, and manufactured that resulted in unexpected loss of power steering, and the Subject Vehicle also lacked Electronic Stability Control. Even after the defect in the Ignition Switch was known, New GM consciously made the decision to not warn consumers after July 10, 2009. New GM also did not ensure that Plaintiff was notified of the defective EPS and the dangers of it.
  • The Subject Vehicle reached the consumers without substantial change to the condition of the Ignition Switch or EPS.
  • The Subject Vehicle with both defects was defective and unreasonably dangerous in that it contained the Ignition Switch Defect that could result in unexpected power loss, and attendant EPS defect that resulted in unexpected loss of power steering, and was designed without Electronic Stability Control.
  • It was entirely foreseeable to, and well-known by, Defendants that incidents involving its automobiles, such as occurred herein, would on occasion take place during the normal and ordinary use of said automobiles.
  • Representing the Subject Vehicles as being safe at the same time New GM intentionally concealed from and/or failed to disclose to others in the chain of distribution the true nature of the dangerous installed defective Ignition switches and defective EPS – which concealment occurred after New GM came into existence as a result of New GM’s own, independent decisions
  • Representing the Subject Vehicles as being safe when they are not;
  • Failing to recall all the Subject Vehicles even after the Ignition Switch defect was finally admitted as to some of the Subject Vehicles – which only occurred after New GM came into existence on July 10, 2009;
  • Failing to ensure that the recalls for defective EPS were sent and received by owners and that such owners were warned for the extent of the dangers associated that defect;
  • Failing to ensure that recall work performed pursuant to the 2010 EPS recall for the Cobalt vehicle was actually effective and failing to notify consumers of their defective recall work sooner;
  • The above representations were false;
  • New GM was and is under duties to owners of the recalled Subject Vehicles and consumers to disclose these facts because:
  • New GM is in a superior position to know the true character and quality of the Subject Vehicles, the Ignition Switch, the EPS, and the problems with the Subject Vehicles;
  • New GM made partial disclosures about the defective nature of the Subject Vehicles, while not revealing their true character or quality;
  • New GM fraudulently and actively concealed the nature of the Subject Vehicles, the Ignition Switch defect from the public the existence and extent of the EPS defect from the public and other GM owners/lessors/users and the consuming public; and
  • When New GM made the above representations, it either knew each was false, or made such representations recklessly without any knowledge of the truth and as positive assertions.
  • NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION BY NEW GM
  • New GM apart from, separate from, independently of, and on its own accord after July 10, 2009, made the following misrepresentations in the course of its business, in a transaction in which it had a pecuniary interest in both:
  • Representing the Subject Vehicles as being safe at the same time New GM knew the Subject Vehicles were defective in that they are subject to sudden power loss, sudden loss of power steering, and catastrophic resulting personal injuries;
  • Representing the Subject Vehicles as being safe at the same time New GM intentionally concealed from and/or failed to disclose to car wners and all others in the chain of distribution the true nature of the dangerous installed defective Ignition Switches – which concealment occurred after New GM came into existence as a result of New GM’s own, independent decisions;
  • Representing the Subject Vehicles as being safe when they are not;
  • New GM failed to exercise reasonable care or competence in obtaining or communicating the above information, including but not limited to failing to recall the affected vehicles even after the Ignition Switch defect was admitted – which only occurred after New GM came into existence on July 10, 2009;
  • Representing that the Subject Vehicles with defective EPS as being safe at the same time New GM knew they were defective in that they are subject to sudden and unexpected power steering loss and resulting catastrophic injuries;
  • New GM failed to ensure that consumers were notified of the EPS defect and the true nature of the defect and attendant loss of power steering;
  • New GM supplied the above false information for the guidance of others in their business; and
  • NON-DISCLOSURE /CONCEALMENT BY NEW GM
  • New GM apart from, separate from, independently of, and on its own accord after July 10, 2009, made the following misrepresentations in the course of its business, in a transaction in which it had a pecuniary interest in both:
  • Representing the Subject Vehicles as being safe at the same time New GM knew the Subject Vehicles were defective in that they are subject to sudden power loss, sudden loss of power steering, and catastrophic resulting personal injuries;
  • Representing the Subject Vehicles as being safe at the same time New GM intentionally concealed from and/or failed to disclose to others in the chain of distribution the true nature of the dangerous installed defective Ignition Switches – which concealment occurred after New GM came into existence as a result of New GM’s own, independent decisions;
  • New GM supplied the above false information for the guidance of others in their business;
  • New GM failed to exercise reasonable care or competence in obtaining or communicating the above information, including but not limited to failing to recall the affected vehicles even after the Ignition Switch defect was admitted – which only occurred after New GM came into existence on July 10, 2009;
  • Representing that the Subject Vehicles with defective EPS as being safe at the same time New GM knew they were defective in that they are subject to sudden and unexpected power steering loss and resulting catastrophic injuries;
  • New GM failed to ensure that consumers, were notified of the EPS defect and the true nature of the defect and attendant loss of power steering;
  • Representing the Subject Vehicles as being safe when they are not; and
  • GROSS NEGLIGENCE BY NEW GM
  • Plaintiffs would further show that the clear and convincing evidence in this case will show that New GM acted with gross negligence in that when viewed objectively from the standpoint of New GM at the time of the occurrence, there was an extreme danger of risk considering the probability and magnitude of potential harm to others, and of which New GM had actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeded with indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others, including the Plaintiffs.
  • New GM being fully aware of the problem also failed to warn the public. From July 10, 2009, through the late summer of 2014, New GM had full knowledge of the defective part and the risks associated with it and failed to recall the vehicles as it was required by statute to do and warn the public. Such conduct by New GM is independently wrongful and otherwise actionable conduct of its own and in no way relies upon any wrongful conduct by Old GM.
  • New GM made its own decisions not to recall the defective vehicles each and every year after it came into existence on July 10, 2009, which had nothing to do with Old GM. Moreover, New GM expressly assumed the liabilities of Old GM for complying with certain statutory requirements, including the National Highway Traffic and Motor Safety Act, among others.
  • New GM’s failure to warn, failure to comply with its duties to recall the vehicles that were known to be defective are all decisions New GM – and only New GM – made. Thus, New GM – and only New GM – is responsible for the consequences and legal liabilities thereof.
  • New GM also made no effort to ensure that drivers of the affected older model vehicles received recall noticed for the EPS defect. Moreover, New GM did not fully disclosure – and still has not entirely disclosed – the full extent of the risk of sudden and unexpected loss of power steering

           

[1] “New GM” is what the bankruptcy court has described as “the acquirer of most of Old GM’s assets in a section 363 sale back in July 2009.”  “Old GM” refers to General Motors Corporation, prior to the 363 Sale, which filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. (Id.)

[2] The model vehicle was recalled for the defective Ignition Switch beginning in March 2014

[3] See Decision at 15, n. 15 citing Burton v. Chrysler Grp., LLC (In re. Old Carco), 492 B.R. 392, 405 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2013) (Bernstein, C.J.) (discussing situations where the successor company has a duty to warn)

[9] http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/acms/cs/jaxrs/download/doc/UCM455144/RCDNN-14V153-3310.pdf

[10] Case No. 09-3580-CK, Macomb County Circuit Court, Michigan; Case No. 2:09-cv-14488-SFC-PJK (S.D. Michigan); http://www.law360.com/articles/135801/gm-seeks-30m-in-faulty-steering-component-suit

[11] http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2009/11/gm_sues_over_millions_spent_on.html

[12] http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2009/11/gm_sues_over_millions_spent_on.html

[13] http://www.leftlanenews.com/gm-sues-supplier-over-electric-power-steering-problems.html

[14] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/02/gm-recall-2010-13-million_n_481873.html

[15] Id.

[16] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/06/business/nhtsa-admits-missing-clues-to-gm-ignition-defects.html?_r=0

[17] http://www.leftlanenews.com/nhtsa-expands-investigation-into-saturn-ion-steering-failures.html

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-03-11/gm-recalls-stalled-in-10-years-of-committee-alphabet-soup

[21] Id. The acronyms were not defined in New GM’s Chronology, but in an article referencing it and the testimony by New GM to authorities with regard to the New GM committee stalling the recall of the Ignition Switch defect, it was noted that “GM told authorities that before announcing the recall, the company engaged in several internal probes featuring an array of committees that left federal bureaucrats baffled.”

[22] http://wkbn.com/2014/03/31/auto-safety-chief-says-gm-didnt-share-key-data/

[23]http://blog.caranddriver.com/gm-recalls-1-3-million-cars-for-power-steering-issue-unrelated-to-ignition-switch-problem/  in 2004.n ION. of committes thaorts concerning steering issues with it began to appear at NHTSA in 2004.n ION. of committes tha

[24] http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2014/04/20/documents-show-gm-waited-years-to-recall-saturn-ions-over-power-steering/

[25] http://www.autonews.com/article/20140630/OEM11/306309964/gm-digs-deep-to-fix-safety-problems

[26] Hopkins v. General Motors, LLC, Cause No. 1:15-CV-02322, United States District Court, District of Colorado.