Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, announced that consumers from across the county have joined together and filed a class-action lawsuit that demands compensation from General Motors and Delphi Automotive for manufacturing, advertising and selling certain cars alleged to be unsafe to drive.
Drivers of the recalled cars filed the lawsuit to recover the costs associated with owning or leasing a GM car manufactured with an ignition switch that GM admits it knew for over a decade was defective and is now linked to hundreds of highway deaths.
“As the complaint alleges and GM’s ‘Dear Customer’ letter advises class members, GM now publicly acknowledges a clear and present danger that it is not prepared to correct,” stated attorney Elizabeth J. Cabraser of the national plaintiffs’ law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. “Affirmative action by consumers themselves is essential to swiftly and completely eliminating the danger from these ignition switches before any more deaths and injuries occur.”
“People from all over the nation are uniting to hold GM accountable — and we’re expecting the number of individuals demanding this accountability to grow even larger in the days and weeks ahead,” said attorney Robin L. Greenwald with Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. of New York, New Jersey, and California, one of six plaintiffs’ law firms coordinating to bring the litigation.
The plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount in compensatory damages, and to have exemplary and statutory penalties imposed on the defendants. Additionally, the plaintiffs want the defendants to either surrender the ill-gotten profits made on the affected cars or to make full restitution to the victims individually and as a class.
Class Action Lawsuit Allegations Summarized
The complaint alleges that GM and Delphi, producer of the ignition switches at issue, knew of the defect early on but chose to do nothing about it and to offer no warning of the problem so as not to harm sales of the vehicles.
More than 300 fatalities have been reported by independent safety regulators who looked into deaths tied to just two of the affected GM makes and models, the complaint alleges.
The complaint also alleges that GM deprived consumers of their right to make an informed decision about driving a car they had a right to expect would be safe.
The plaintiffs assert in the lawsuit that Delphi knew its ignition switches were defective in design and/or manufacture, but nonetheless continued to make and sell them. They allege as well that Delphi knew GM would install the faulty switches in the carmaker’s vehicles.
“The class action lawsuit prioritizes prompt correction under court control, calls for statutory penalties to punish and deter misconduct, and requests a court-supervised compensation fund to repay the expense and inconvenience to consumers of being saddled with this defect, and of bringing in their cars to fix what should have been designed and built safely in the first place,” Cabraser explained.
“The decade-long deceit, the complaint charges, was spread, amplified and reinforced by GM’s false advertising about the cars,” Greenwald said. “On the basis of that advertising, more and more innocent people kept buying these cars believing, as GM told them — even though not true — that the car was safe for them, their families, their friends and others on the road. These consumers had the absolute right to know the truth. But rather than admit the defect and offer car owners repair of their vehicles, GM concealed the defect and, shockingly, continued to sell cars with the same defect. What is even worse, GM put millions of people’s lives at risk as GM knew that the defect had and could continue to cause driving fatalities.”
The complaint was filed late yesterday afternoon in federal court in Los Angeles.
The consumers in the class action lawsuit are represented by Weitz & Luxenberg, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Lackey Hershman, L.L.P. of Dallas, Texas, Bailey & Glasser, LLP, of Charleston, West Virginia, The Lanier Law Firm P.C. of Houston, Texas, Barrett Law Group, P.A. of Lexington, Mississippi, and Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. of Montgomery, Alabama.
GM Recall Summarized
Some 1.5-million vehicles are affected by the ignition switch defect, the complaint estimates. Two models of GM-built Chevrolet are among the cars at the center of the lawsuit. They are the 2005-07 Cobalt and 2006-07 MY Chevrolet HHR.
The lawsuit also involves two GM Saturn models: the 2003-07 MY Saturn Ion and 2007 MY Saturn Sky.
Additionally identified in the lawsuit are GM’s 2006-07 Pontiac Solstice and 2005-07 Pontiac G5.
The defects result in ignition switches being installed loose and improperly positioned, which makes them susceptible to failure during normal and expected driving conditions, the complaint contends.
When the ignition switch failure occurs, it turns off the engine and vital electrical components, such as the power steering system and anti-lock brakes; it also can affect deployment of the car’s safety airbag system, as GM admits in the recall.
“If the vehicle is traveling along the freeway at 65 mph, the loss of those crucial systems will leave the driver unable to control the vehicle,” said Greenwald. “GM even acknowledges there have been deaths caused by the defective ignition switch.”
Legal Resources for Owners of Recalled GM Cars
Owners of the affected cars interested in more information about protecting and advancing their legal interests through this class action are invited to contact Weitz & Luxenberg toll-free at (800) 476-6070 or visit www.weitzluxenberg.com or Lieff Cabraser toll-free at (800) 541-7358 or visit www.lieffcabraser.com
Elizabeth J. Cabraser
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Robin L. Greenwald
Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C.