HOUSTON – In a filing last month in New York District Court, General Motors Corp. agreed to settle more than 200 lawsuits related to allegedly defective ignition switches that caused vehicles to stall and prevent airbags from deploying in a crash.
According to Reuters, terms of the settlement are confidential but this also could resolve other claims currently being heard in state court.
The defect in the GM vehicles has been linked to 124 deaths and 275 injuries and it has caused the automaker to dole out $2.5 billion in settlements and penalties.
At about the same time as the announcement of the settlement, another case was filed in Houston. And it was not known at press time as to whether there was a settlement reached in this case.
Filed by Houston attorney K. Camp Bailey of Bailey Peavy Bailey PLLC, Brittany Harper and others are listed as the plaintiffs and are seeking a jury trial. The complaint against GM was filed June 20 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas.
The crux of the case is outlined in the introduction of the complaint.
"At any given moment, an ignition switch in a variety of old and new GM vehicles could fail, killing or maiming the driver, passengers, other motorists, or innocent bystanders," the complaint said. "Such disastrous system failures in Old and New GM vehicles are triggered by something as simple as a key chain attached to the vehicle’s key or a bump in the road, which can cause the vehicle’s ignition switch to change from the 'run' position into the 'accessory/off' position, with a corresponding reduction or loss of power.’’
According to the complaint, GM admits to its customers that lightening the key chain may not help with the problem because rough road conditions still could cause the vehicle to experience full loss of power, breaking, and air bag deployment. Even a GM engineer referred to the ignition switch as the "switch from hell," according to the complaint.
The complaint claims that GM has refused to communicate honestly about the defective ignition switch for the past four-and-a-half years when the old GM company filed for bankruptcy.
"New GM knew of the life-threatening danger, and yet concealed the risk from drivers," the complaint said. "Considering both the time that Old GM discovered the ignition switch defect and the time that New GM learned about it, 13 years have passed. New GM belatedly admits that there was a death for every year of their collective silence. But, a recent report suggests that the death toll is exponentially higher than New GM admits, with the number actually in the hundreds."