| July 29
July 29 General Motors was hit Tuesday
with a lawsuit brought on behalf of more than 650 people
allegedly injured or killed in accidents involving cars that
have been recalled this year for faulty ignition switches.
The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court, where
dozens of cases against GM over the switch recall have been
consolidated. It names a total of 658 plaintiffs, including 29
who are bringing claims on behalf of people who died.
Since the beginning of the year, GM has recalled nearly 15
million vehicles worldwide over potentially defective ignition
switches. The company has set up a program, run by lawyer
Kenneth Feinberg, to compensate victims of crashes involving
about 2.6 million of those cars, mostly Cobalts, Ions and other
small cars that it linked to 54 crashes and 13 deaths.
Tuesday's lawsuit covers claims that would not be eligible
for the program, according to Robert Hilliard, the lawyer who
filed the suit. These include accidents involving cars not among
the 2.6 million initially recalled for switch issues and
accidents in which the car's airbags deployed, which are
ineligible for the program.
Feinberg has said that airbag non-deployment is a key sign
that the ignition switch may not have been properly working.
A spokesman for GM, Jim Cain, declined to comment
specifically on the allegations in the suit. He said that
Feinberg was in charge of setting the criteria for the program,
and GM had not set a limit on how much it would pay to eligible
claimants. "It's our goal to treat people fairly and with
compassion throughout the process," Cain said.
The lawsuit also includes people who under the program would
receive less than "fair value" for their claims, such as an
injured person who stayed in the hospital for just one night,
Hilliard said. Under the protocol Feinberg released for the
program, claims involving hospital stays of one night would
The accidents cited in the lawsuit occurred after GM exited
bankruptcy in July 2009, Hilliard said.
So-called new GM, a different legal entity than the company
that filed for bankruptcy, is not responsible for legal claims
relating to incidents that took place before July 2009. Those
claims must be brought against what remains of old,
pre-bankruptcy GM. GM has asked a bankruptcy judge to rule on
whether legal claims over the switches are barred.
The case is Abney v. GM, U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of New York, No. 14-5810.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye in New York; Editing by Ted Botha and