GM Ignition Switch Recall

General Motors (GM) has been under scrutiny recently due to a faulty ignition switch used in many of their cars. The ignition switch in some of GM’s smaller cars is said to allow the key to switch to the “off” or “accessory” position if the keychain is too heavy, or during a jarring event (such as an accident). The reason why so many consumers are outraged is because, through internal documents, it appears GM has known about the problem for more than 10 years and did not act until 2014 when they issued a recall affecting 2.6 million of its cars sold worldwide.

Sometime in 2001, engineers working for GM began experiencing problems with the ignition switches in some Saturn Ions. In 2003 and 2004, a GM service technician witnessed a Saturn Ion stall while being driven and made a note that the ignition switch was worn out due to the weight of the keys, and a GM engineer had a Chevrolet Cobalt lose power when he accidentally bumped the key during driving.

By 2005, GM had begun receiving reports of Chevrolet Cobalts losing power under similar circumstances as the GM engineer in 2004—bumping the key caused the car to lose power, and switch from the “on” position to the “accessory” or “off” position. Though GM had the ignition module changed and began to install it in the 2007 and newer cars, they kept the same part number so that many GM employees had no idea it was a new part.

In 2011, GM decided to launch an investigation into the front crashes of some smaller cars they manufacture (like the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models) where the front airbags did not work properly. Upon testing the ignition switches, GM discovered that the cars in which the ignition would turn from “on” to “accessory” or “off” were switches that were made prior to 2007 (before the redesigned switches).

Though GM originally stated it knew of only 13 deaths, an investigation launched by attorney Kenneth Feinberg in an effort to settle with injured plaintiffs and their families has revealed that were many more deaths. The final number Feinberg reached was 124 people who had died as a result of GM’s faulty ignition switches, with over 275 injured. These numbers might be slightly misleading, however, because Feinberg only approved 9% of all injury claims submitted, while more than 4,000 total claims were filed and investigated.

Derek Merman of the Merman Law Firm was actively involved in the GM ignition switch MDL in the Southern District of New York. Relying primarily on his extensive knowledge of automotive product defect cases, Derek handled more than 1,000 GM ignition switch claims.  If you were injured because of a faulty ignition switch in your GM vehicle, immediately contact the Merman Law Firm.