It looks like every suit against GM over the ignition switch will probably be pretty rocky

With Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal taking up all the headlines, it was pretty easy for GM’s ignition switch problem to be overshadowed. Well, now that all the hype over VW has started to subdue a bit, GM is back in the headlines again. This time, however, it isn’t for another death or another new lawsuit, but because it is trying to get the judge to dismiss the first civil case being brought against it in Texas over the ignition switch issue.

Five years ago, Zachary Stevens was driving his 2007 Saturn Sky when he crashed into another vehicle, subsequently killing its driver. Stevens had manslaughter charges brought against him, but after claiming that the ignition switch rotation caused him to crash, and GM initiated a voluntary recall, the charge was ultimately dropped. As such, Stevens proceeded to file a civil lawsuit against GM, claiming it was at fault for the accident.

In GM’s initial filing, it claims that Stevens initially said he was driving with just a few items attached to his key, but the key shown to jurors more recently included a few more items like a gym membership car and an Eiffel Tower Souvenir. On top of that, GM is also claiming that the key itself did not, in fact, belong to the vehicle that was involved in the accident – claiming that Steven’s has “fabricated evidence” and that the alleged misstatements have “hamstrung the search for the truth.”

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Why it Matters

So in short, Stevens is claiming that too much weight attached to the key for his Saturn Sky caused the ignition switch to inadvertently rotate, killing the engine, power brakes, etc. GM’s defense is that it isn’t even the right key and that more weight has been added to the key. Gm’s hoping that the judge will just dismiss the case altogether, but if it can’t happen it wants the jury to disregard the “false” claims made about the key. So what happens from here?

Well, it is ultimately up to the judge to make a call on this one, but I naturally want to go against GM on this one and say that the automaker is doing everything it can to avoid taking responsibility for manufacturing and selling a product that has caused more than 100 deaths. Part of my reason for siding against GM is that it has already tried to pull at least one dirty trick to get out of its liability, when it tried to pull the “Old GM” defense, saying that it’s 2009 bankruptcy shed it of any liability for its previous wrongdoings. Of course, that defense didn’t work out too well.

So far, the whole ignition switch issue has already hit GM for at least $2 billion and with this case being the 1st of 20 lawsuits heading to trial in Texas state court alone, you can be sure it is going to cost more. But, just like every other automaker who makes a mistake, GM is going to try its hardest to get out of as much as possible. It’s not that I can say for certain that Stevens, in this particular case, wasn’t at fault – I wasn’t there – but GM’s argument that it isn’t the correct key and that Stevens has added more items to fabricate the evidence seems a little shady to me. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

Source: Reuters

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