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GM Switch Litigation

May 7, 2014 | Posted In Personal Injury/Negligence |

A class action lawsuit pending in the Trenton courts is highlighting the dangers inherent in the flawed designs of 2.6 million Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Saturn vehicles, personal injury lawyers in New Jersey report. In Ruff v. General Motors, the plaintiffs claim that GM engineers knew of the defect, but did nothing to correct it or acknowledge its existence, resulting in over 300 speculated fatalities. 

According to the lawsuit, company engineers first discovered in 2001 that the design used for Chevrolets, Pontiacs, and Saturns—all manufactured by General Motors Corp—had a serious, and potentially dangerous, flaw. The switches in some of these cars could accidentally move to the “acc” or “off” position, causing the engine to shut down, the car to lose power, and the antilock brakes and the airbag to deactivate. 

In 2005, GM acknowledged to dealers that the vehicle design was flawed, but failed to provide that information when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attempted to investigate, the plaintiffs claim. This February, GM publically announced a recall of all vehicles with the faulty ignition switches. Although the exact number of accident-related deaths that can be traced back to this design flaw is still unknown, it has been estimated that the problem has caused as many as 303 fatalities since the discovery, based on a study of failed airbag deployments in accidents involving Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions.

The cars with faulty switches were all manufactured by a subsidiary of GM, Delphi Automotive, and built on common platforms, with the same ignition switches. Delphi Automotive has also been named as a defendant in the class action suit, personal injury lawyers in New Jersey say. The recalled vehicles are the Chevrolet Cobalt (model years 2005-2010), Chevrolet HHR (2006-2011), Pontiac Solstice (2006-2010), Pontiac G5 (2005-2010), Saturn Sky (2007-2010), and Saturn Ion (2003-2007). 

Lisa Ruff, of Hazlet, one of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, claims that her 2007 Cobalt was totaled due to the design flaw. Her daughter had been driving the car when the engine stopped working. She lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. Another plaintiff, Sheri Marx, lists a myriad of mechanical issues she has experienced with her 2006 Cobalt. Although her vehicle’s engine has not yet failed, she says the car is too risky to drive safely. Both women are seeking damages for the expenses they racked up in trying to repair their cars, including time off work, rental cars, child care, and Ruff’s replacement vehicle. 

The case in Trenton is not the only lawsuit against GM for the defective switches. At least 15 pending cases have been reported to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, eight of which have been filed in Los Angeles, California. Consolidation, especially of the separate LA cases, is being considered as the General Motors Ignition Switch Litigation.

At New Jersey law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, our personal injury attorneys represent anyone who has been injured in a car accident caused by faulty manufacturing or concealed defects. If you have suffered injuries after vehicle malfunctioned in any way, contact an HCK attorney for a consultation today.  

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