General Motors (GM) Recalls Cars

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GM Claims Plaintiffs are Fabricating Evidence in Texas Lawsuit Over Faulty Ignition Switch

GM Claims Plaintiffs are Fabricating Evidence in Texas Lawsuit Over Faulty Ignition Switch

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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GM To Pay $900 Million Settlement

GM To Pay $900 Million Settlement

General Motors will pay out $900 million to the federal government to settle the case brought by the U.S. Justice Department’s involving faulty ignition switches that affected 2.59 million vehicles. The case charged GM with wire fraud and conspiracy to conceal life-threatening defects from federal regulators. No individuals were charged. The settlement comes just weeks after GM admitted to 124 deaths that were direct results of the defect. Over 4,300 claims were filed, 338 of which were death claims.

In exchange for the payout, the U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to defer prosecution of charges involving the defective ignition switches for three years. During that time, GM will be required to cooperate with federal regulators and establish an independent monitor that will continually review the company’s policies and procedures concerning safety and recalls. If the terms are met, federal prosecutors have agreed to seek dismissal of charges after three years.

“The mistakes that led to the ignition switch recall should never have happened. We have apologized and we do so again today,” said GM CEO Mary Barra in company press release. “We have faced our issues with a clear determination to do the right thing both for the short term and the long term. I believe that our response has been unprecedented in terms of candor, cooperation, transparency and compassion.”

“The worst part of this tragedy is that it was entirely avoidable,” said Troubled Asset Relief Program inspector general Christy Romero, according to Bloomberg Business. TARP bailed out GM in 2009 to the tune $49.5 billion, cash that Romero says, “could have significantly reduced the risk of this deadly defect by improving the key design for less than one dollar per vehicle.”

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Final Death Toll From GM's Defective Ignition Switches is Debatable

Final Death Toll From GM’s Defective Ignition Switches is Debatable

General Motors has claimed that 124 deaths were the result of faulty ignition switches. The number is almost 10 times more than the 13 deaths the company admitted to about a year ago, but 214 short of the total 338 death claims filed. The findings come from an internally appointed review team that considered over 4,300 death and injury claims.

As you might expect, not everyone is satisfied with GM’s findings. The Detroit News spoke with the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, Clarence Ditlow, who said the “burden of proof on the individual consumer was always too high,” and that it was impossible for some would-be claimants to produce sufficient documentation.

“The entire program was designed to get [sic] help get Congress and the Justice Department off GM’s back,” Ditlow told The Detroit News. “The one thing is clear that we will never know how many people were killed or injured because it goes back so far.”

In addition to the death claims paid, the General Motors compensation fund will also pay out 274 injury claims, but says there are still a few left to review. Of the 4,342 total claims filed, 338 of which were for deaths, about 91 percent were rejected. So far, GM has paid about $280 million in claims and expects that number to climb to $625 million. Several claims have been rejected or not yet accepted.

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General Motors Recalls 15K Trucks For Leaky Brakes

General Motors Recalls 15K Trucks For Leaky Brakes

General Motors is again issuing yet another recall – this time for 14,838 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-sized pickup trucks. The safety recall centers on the brakes of the 2015 model year trucks, as the front brake calipers might leak brake fluid, compromising the truck’s braking performance.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the trucks involved in the recall were built from January 6, 2014 to December 24, 2014 – or basically the entire year. The issue stems from imperfections inside the metal caliper body that lead to air pockets forming in the brake fluid. Over time this can lead to fluid leaking from the caliper body.

Obviously a decreased volume of brake fluid leads to poor braking performance, which could potentially lead to a wreck due to extended stopping distances.

Like with all recalls, the automaker will inspect the effected parts and replace them if necessary, free of charge to the customer. In GM’s case, it will begin notifying customers of the effected vehicles July 10, 2015. For customers who want more information on the recall, they can contact Chevrolet at 1-800-222-1020 or GMC at 1-800-462-8782, specifying recall number 14888.

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