GM is facing a potential class action lawsuit over an ignition switch defect linked to the recall of more than 1.6 million compact cars.
The lawsuit was filed in Texas federal court on Friday, alleging that General Motors knew about the dangerous defect in 2004 but failed to fix it -- putting drivers' lives at risk and reducing the resale value of their vehicles, reports Reuters.
What does this suit mean for GM?
Federal Suit May Become Class Action
Daryl and Maria Brandt filed the lawsuit because of safety risks posed by their 2007 Chevy Cobalt, one of the many models recalled by GM over the ignition switch defect. According to Reuters, the couple claims they "have driven their car less than otherwise" fearing an accident caused by the ignition switch issue.
The Brandts do not claim that they were injured in an ignition switch-related accident, but they do want compensation for diminished resale value and the loss of use of their vehicle.
Their suit is seeking class action certification, so that the Brandts can represent similarly situated individuals across the country who may have been injured by GM's alleged wrongdoing. In order to be certified as a class action, a federal court must find that:
- It is impractical for each plaintiff to sue on his or her own,
- There is a common complaint shared between class members,
- Class representatives (in this case, the Brandts) have the same claims and defenses as others in the class, and
- The lawyers and representatives will fairly represent the class.
Payouts in class action lawsuits can be substantial. You'll recall a class action suit related to Toyota's sudden acceleration issue settled for more than $1 billion.
Legal Troubles Mounting for GM
This potential class action suit is yet another legal action on GM's plate over this ignition switch defect. Both Congress and the Justice Department are looking into criminal and civil charges against the car manufacturer for allegedly misleading government regulators by not giving notice of the defect.
GM car owners will want to check to see if their vehicle is included in the ignition switch recall, and will also want to consider contacting an experienced motor vehicle defect lawyer if they feel they've been injured by their defective vehicles.
- Lawsuit Filed Against General Motors Over Ignition-Switch Recall Losses (Insurance Journal)
- GM Recalls 780K Cars After 6 Deaths (FindLaw's Injured)
- GM Recall Expands to 1.6M Vehicles; 13 Deaths Reported (FindLaw's Common Law)
- GM Recalling 1.5M Vehicles Over Fire Risk (FindLaw's Injured)