According to the Associated Press, a jury has been selected to serve in a Manhattan civil trial addressing hundreds of pending claims against General Motors, all of which allege defective and dangerous ignition switches. This trial is the first of six that have been scheduled throughout the coming year to narrow legal issues in lawsuits affecting more than 1,000 people. Hundreds of lawsuits with similar complaints have been consolidated in Manhattan federal court. The presiding judge thoroughly questioned potential jurors in search of a group that could hear the case in an impartial and fair manner.
This first case will examine the complaint of Robert Scheuer, a Tulsa man who was injured in a GM vehicle crash. His attorneys allege that a defect in the vehicle’s ignition switch prevented the airbags in his 2003 Saturn from deploying after he was run off the road by another car and subsequently crashed into trees. GM, however, contends that the airbags would not have deployed in that type of a crash and that the ignition switch had nothing to do with it.
GM is said to have known about defects in ignition switches in various vehicle models for at least a decade; you may recall the unprecedented recall that occurred in 2014 affecting Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars. In affected recalls, the ignition switches were prone to slipping out of the “On” position, which caused the cars to stall, resulting in a loss of power steering and air bag function. More than 1.6 million vehicles were affected. GM linked 13 deaths to the faulty switch. A review of federal crash data commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety identified another 303 deaths in GM vehicles caused by airbags that failed to deploy.
For more information on car system failures, please visit The Russell Friedman Law Group, LLP online.