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GM Must Pay For the Sins Of Its Past

Posted in Car Accidents,Consumer Safety,Our Blog on March 26, 2014


General Motors has recently recalled more than 1.6 million of its vehicles manufactured between 2003 – 2007, among them its Chevrolet Cobalt, a car being described by some in the auto industry as a “cardinal sin.”

In an article for Automotive News, reporters Mike Colias and Nick Bunkley detail GM’s questionable history of cost-cutting moves made in a desperate attempt to keep up with foreign automakers:

“Stung by rising warranty costs, General Motors decided in the mid-1990s to pull design work for ignition and turn-signal switches from suppliers and put its own employees in charge. One of the first projects for the in-house team was the ignition switch for the Saturn Ion and Chevrolet Cobalt… That part has now been linked to at least 34 crashes and 12 deaths over the past decade. It’s also at the center of a deepening mystery in the wake of GM’s recall of 1.6 million 2003-07 vehicles fitted with the defective ignition switch.”

The article goes on to ask two very important questions: “Why did GM authorize a redesign of the part in 2006, eight years before the recall? And why was the change made so discreetly?” This years-long delay in notifying the community of the great danger threatening so many drivers and passengers over the years has many public officials and safety advocates howling.

In an article for the Los Angeles Times, Jerry Hirsch tells the story of a mother whose teenaged daughter was killed in a malfunctioning Chevy Cobalt in 2006. In the wake of GM’s disclosure that it knew about the Cobalt’s faulty features, the mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against GM. Hirsch’s article, however, notes that her suit is unlikely to succeed. That’s because GM filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and was able to shed all its prior debts and liabilities. This means that (theoretically, at least) GM in its current incarnation has no responsibility for defective cars from before its 2009 bankruptcy.

We at Redmann Law would disagree. Not yet having had the opportunity to fully research the issue, we can still say with a high degree of confidence that, if it can be shown that GM intentionally or fraudulently withheld this critical debt exposure (for accidents leading up to the 2009 debt discharge), then reopening the bankruptcy should be well within reach.

GM owes a tremendous debt to American public-we spent $10.5 billion in taxpayer funds to keep the company afloat after decades of mismanagement. To revisit its past sins and properly compensate those it has wronged is only fair and just. The litigation would be lengthy, expensive, and complicated, but it should be GM-and not the victims and their loved ones tragically affected by unsafe GM vehicles-that should face the uphill battle in court.

Vehicles involved in GM’s recall include EVERY vehicle of the following make and model: 2005, 2006, & 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt; 2005, 2006, & 2007 Pontiac G5; 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, & 2007 Saturn Ion; 2006 & 2007 Chevrolet HHR; 2005 & 2006 Pontiac Pursuit (Canada only); 2006 & 2007 Pontiac Solstice; and 2007 Saturn Sky.