CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas, March 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Robert Hilliard, the lead counsel representing the families of victims of the GM ignition switch failures in bellwether litigation against the giant automaker, today announced strong support for "Amber's Law," a groundbreaking Maryland initiative to end the "gag rule" GM and other carmakers use to prevent dealers from sharing warranty update, service bulletin and other key safety information with drivers.
The Maryland House of Delegates' Environment and Transportation Committee will hold hearings on the bill (HB 982/SB 666) today (Thursday, March 3). The bill is sponsored by Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo and by Senator Susan Lee in the Maryland Senate.
"GM tells its dealers they can't share critical safety information with customers," Hilliard notes. "That rule helps the company keep dangerous defects quiet and put off needed repairs and recalls but it puts the lives of drivers at serious risk."
"In light of the terrible experiences of the victims of GM's deadly ignition switch failures – a defect that cost the lives of at least 124 victims while the company waited more than 10 years to recall the more than 2 million cars affected, that 'gag rule' is intolerable," Hilliard says.
"Amber's Law," honors Amber Marie Rose, a 16-year old Maryland girl who died on July 29, 2005 in a crash caused by a failure in the ignition switch of her new Chevy Cobalt. Amber was one of the first to die as a result of the defect, but GM waited almost nine years after her death before it began recalling the dangerous cars in February 2014.
Amber's birth mother, Laura Christian, has worked for years to win justice for Amber and other GM victims. She strongly supports the MD legislation – and sees it as a model law other states will be able to use to save lives and help consumers make safer car-buying choices.
"If we had known what GM knew about the ignition switch defect in 2005, we never would have bought that car – and Amber would be with us today," Christian notes. "The bill honors Amber by getting information that can save lives to all Maryland drivers and allowing dealers to stand up for their customers."
The legislation would enable dealers to share warranty policy updates, service bulletins and other key safety information with customers. It also enables dealers to publish safety and product information on their websites and protects dealers against punitive audits and other abusive practices carmakers use to make it difficult for dealers to do all the warranty and repair work customers need.
Consumer Auto, a Maryland nonprofit group that works with consumer advocates and consumer-friendly car dealers to build a safer and more transparent market for auto sales and servicing, put together the bill and is leading the fight for reform in Annapolis.
"The 'veil of secrecy' GM and other carmakers use to conceal this kind of safety information deprives drivers of information they need to know – information that can save lives," Consumer Auto Executive Director Franz Schneiderman argues. "Our bill offers a package of reforms that will work together to protect consumers and put dealers in a position to do the right thing for their customers."
In the face of one automaker safety scandal after another and inadequate federal car safety enforcement, "The bill offers a new and exciting way to use state law to empower drivers and dealers to stand up for safety," Schneiderman concludes.
Hilliard states, "Transparency will safe lives. End of discussion. It is time to stop Detroit car companies from controlling who sees what. Their goals and to limit financial exposure, not save lives."
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Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales LLP (HMG) specializes in mass torts, personal injury, product liability, commercial and business litigation, and wrongful death. Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales LLP has been successfully representing clients in the United States and Mexico since 1986. Bob Hilliard obtained the Largest Verdict in the country in 2012 and the #1 verdict in Texas in 2013.
HMG is actively seeking to represent other victims of GM's defective vehicles.
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SOURCE Hilliard Munoz Gonzales