General Motors may have agreed to pay $575 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit connected to their faulty ignition switches, but billions of dollars remain at stake, according to the Insurance Journal. GM still faces hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits over the deadly flaw, as well as lawsuits filed by car owners demanding upwards of $10 billion in compensation for the lost value of their vehicles.
The settlement doesn’t include another 31 deaths and 244 injuries that occurred before GM’s 2009 bankruptcy. GM gained advantage over many victims when a judge approved the company’s sale in bankruptcy, which barred many claims made before the Chapter 11 filing. Victims have since appealed that ruling, which if overturned would expose GM to additional liability.
Cases Set For Trial
Six personal injury lawsuits are currently scheduled for trial, the first set to begin in January 2016 in New York. The plaintiffs in the lawsuits allege that GM endangered them by delaying the recall of the defective vehicles in which bumped keys could trigger a shut-off and disable steering, brakes, and airbags. The defect has been linked to 124 deaths and multiple injuries.
Top executives at GM insist that they didn’t know that the ignition switch was a persistent problem, and none will be prosecuted under a $900 million deal the company made with the Department of Justice to end a U.S. criminal investigation into its handling of the matter.
Engineers Knew of Problems, Company Declined to Fix Issues with Switches
Some GM engineers told the DOJ that even before the switch went into production in 2002, they knew it was prone to slipping out of the run position. A few years later, the company considered fixing the problem at a cost of approximately $1 a vehicle, but chose not to after deciding that the problem didn’t pose a safety concern, according to court documents.
By the spring of 2012, some GM employees knew the switch was defective because it could cause the airbags to fail to deploy, but the company didn’t notify federal safety officials until February 2014, nearly two years later.