SAN FRANCISCO and CHICAGO, March 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Just days after a group of consumers called on General Motors to expand a nationwide recall of vehicles affected by its defective ignition switches, the company has done just that, by nearly one million cars.
GM announced on March 28 that it was widening the scope of its recall by 971,000 vehicles to include 2008-11 small model GM cars that could potentially contain mechanisms related to its defective system, which have been blamed in 13 fatalities and dozens of crashes. That was in addition to the 1.6 million cars the company had already called in for repair earlier in the month.
GM's new CEO Mary Barra will go before Congressional and Senate committees for two days of hearings on April 2-3 to explain the reasons for the broadened recall, but also why the company is believed to have delayed disclosing the problems with its key system for well over a decade.
On March 24, a group of GM drivers from nine states brought a class action against GM seeking economic recovery and damages on behalf of drivers nationally who purchased or leased GM vehicles they argue that GM knew contained the defective key system. Significantly, this lawsuit, Maciel v. General Motors Corp., is the first and only one filed against GM to date that seeks to represent all of purchasers and lessees of the affected GM cars, including vehicles subject to GM's latest recall.
Upon filing their suit in a San Francisco federal court, lawyers representing the consumers said replacement of the faulty switches was an insufficient fix, as other ignition engineering problems – including the entirety of GM's key system – were also a factor. They also demanded that GM widen its recall, especially to cover cars with model years later than those in the initial call-back, which was limited to certain 2003-07 GM vehicles.
The nearly 2.6 million cars affected include various models of Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR; Pontiac G5 and Solstice; and Saturn Ion and Sky vehicles. Part of the added recall is to cover cars that may have received defective replacement ignition switches in the large after-market.
"We are pleased to see that GM, following our lead and tracking the claims made in our lawsuit, has taken another step toward acknowledging the full extent of the problem with its small-car ignition system," said Adam Levitt, a director with Grant & Eisenhofer and one of the lawyers leading the private consumer action.
"Unfortunately, GM's proposed remedy of merely replacing the ignition switch, still fails to address the full nature of the problem in the affected recalls," Mr. Levitt added. The consumers allege that GM considered a more complete fix to include a protective shield around its key system to ensure that it did not inadvertently drop into accessory mode while the car is being operated. The drop has been attributed to a sudden loss of power, also disabling the vehicles' air safety bags.
"We expect that congressional investigators are going to continue probing GM for its pattern of non-disclosures and late disclosures and reacting only after being called out for its piecemeal solutions, rather than stepping up and doing the right thing for millions of customers who have been hurt by the company's actions and subsequent cover-up over its ignition switch."
Consumers are asking that GM be compelled to undertake a complete overhaul of the key system to that all defective cars can have their value restored. They are also seeking financial compensation for the reduced value of their cars. According to GM, nearly 100,000 of the faulty ignition switches were sold to auto dealers and wholesalers, and that approximately 90,000 were used for repairs.
In addition to Grant & Eisenhofer, consumers are represented by leading national trial firms of Baron & Budd and The Cooper Firm, whose principal partner Lance Cooper was the first attorney to uncover GM's key system defect and the company's years-long effort to conceal it.
Other major firms comprising the litigation team include Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Goza, P.C.; The DiCello Law Firm; Conley Griggs Partin LLP; Spilman Thomas & Battle PLLC; Bucci Bailey & Javins L.C.; and Siprut P.C. Among other noted members of the trial team are Edward D. "Chip" Robertson, Jr., former Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, and Sharon L. Potter, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia.
The lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, covers owners and lease-holders of the following GM vehicles – dates indicate model years: Chevrolet Cobalt (2005-2010); Chevrolet HHR (2006-07); Pontiac Solstice (2006-07); Pontiac G5 (2005-07); Saturn Ion (2003-07); and Saturn Sky (2007).
The case caption for the consumers' action is: Galdina Maciel, et al. v. General Motors; U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California; Case 3:14-cv-01339; filed March 24, 2014.
Grant & Eisenhofer, P.A. (www.gelaw.com)
Grant & Eisenhofer represents plaintiffs in a wide range of complex financial litigation. G&E's clients include institutional investors, whistleblowers and other stakeholders in bankruptcy litigation, securities class actions, derivative lawsuits, consumer class actions, antitrust suits, and cases involving the False Claims Act. G&E has recovered more than $13 billion for its clients and class members in the last five years alone and has consistently been cited by RiskMetrics for securing the highest average investor recovery in securities class actions. G&E has been named one of the country's top plaintiffs' law firms by The National Law Journal for the past 10 years.
SOURCE Grant & Eisenhofer, P.A.