GM Begins Shipping Replacement Ignition Switches
Following recalls issued for more than 2.6 million vehicles that may have defective and dangerous ignition switches, which could cause the vehicles to suddenly shut off and prevent air bags from deploying, General Motors indicates that it has begun shipping replacement parts needed to make the vehicles safe.
As of April 15, the automaker indicates that thousands of ignition switch repair kits have been shipped and dealers are already replacing them in recalled Saturn, Chevrolet and Pontiac vehicles.
The company has sent out about 1.4 million notifications to U.S. car owners by mail, indicating that their vehicles’ ignition switches need to be replaced. Owners of affected vehicles can expect to receive additional letters in May, confirming that their vehicles are affected by the recall. They will receive another letter notifying them when replacement parts are available.
In February, GM first announced it was recalling nearly 800,000 vehicles in the U.S. due to problems with ignition switches that could turn the vehicle off if jarred or if heavy keys were used in the ignition. This switches off the air bags, which fail to deploy when needed in an auto accident.
That recall has since been expanded to include more than 2.5 million vehicles worldwide, with GM admitting it knew about the ignition switch problem for years without acting.
A growing number of GM recall lawsuits are being filed in state and federal courts throughout the United States, including personal injury claims, wrongful death claims, investor lawsuits and other class actions over the diminished value of the vehicles.
While GM has indicated that at least 13 deaths may have occurred due to airbag failures caused by the faulty ignition switch, outside experts suggest that many more serious injuries and deaths appear to have occurred. A report by the Center for Automobile Safety suggested that more than 300 deaths have been reported to federal regulators following accidents involving some of the recalled vehicles where airbags failed to deploy.
Federal regulators and GM recommend that until the vehicles are inspected, operators should remove all heavy key-ring and key-chains from the ignition key and be aware that the vehicles are left in the correct gear when exiting.
GM Clarifies Bankruptcy Motion
GM has also released a statement regarding its filing to block some GM recall ignition switch lawsuits through a motion in federal bankruptcy court, saying that it only seeks to block lawsuits for purely economic damage and does not intend to use the measure to block injury claims.
The move comes after the company filed a motion in federal court in Manhattan, calling on U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber to protect the company from liabilities that occurred before its 2009 bankruptcy and reorganization, indicating that the new GM should not be liable for actions of the company’s previous incarnation.
“General Motors has taken responsibility for its actions and will keep doing so,” according to a company statement issued on Tuesday. “GM has also acknowledged that it has civic and legal obligations relating to injuries that may relate to recalled vehicles, and it has retained Kenneth Feinberg to advise the company what options may be available to deal with those obligations.”
Feinberg is a well known attorney specializing in mediation. He managed the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, the BP oil spill fund, the One Fund Boston for victims of the marathon bombing and is an advisor to the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation.
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