General Motors has settled two cases related to an issue with a defective ignition switch that was linked to over 124 deaths and 275 injuries. The cases reach back to a May 2014 incident in Oklahoma, involving an accident where the ignition switch prevented the airbag from deploying. The man driving the car was Robert Scheuer, 49, who was left severely injured when his car careened into a tree, and the collision safety mechanisms failed to activate. Those vehicles, the 2003 Saturn Ion model, were recalled in 2014 for the faulty ignition switch. The source of the problem was that the switch had the potential to slip out of the “run” position, which disabled the vehicle’s safety features, specifically the airbags. Scheuer’s case is one of many “bellwether” cases on the issue.
In layman’s terms, a bellwether case, or bellwether trial, is a term for a case that is meant to serve as somewhat of a test or model for heavily contested issues of the law. These types of cases are common in scenarios where one defendant has several cases filed against them in regards to one particular incident or issue. Citing bellwether cases can be helpful in court to reduce the large volume of cases. For GM, these cases will help determine the course of a number of related lawsuits have been filed against them for the problems with the ignition switch.
General Motors’ Settlements
General Motors has settled the final two bellwether trials in lieu of appearing in court for a trial that had been scheduled for federal court later this year. The lawsuits were settled, however, the lawyers representing General Motors for the case declined to give the amounts of the settlement. Regardless of the amounts, these bellwether cases have helped bring to light evidence and understanding of what was the cause of these accidents. The automobile company has also been the subject of several punitive damages brought on from the U.S. Justice Department which settled for over $2 billion against them in response to the same issue.
General Motors has also been the defendant for claims against other issues pertaining to other ignition switch issues, such as engines turning over without intent, and some other lawsuits related to rapidly declining resale values in GM vehicles. Prior cases have also linked other GM ignition switches to incidents that have led to death or injury. With these prior cases together with the newly settled bellwether cases, the courts and lawyers are working to develop a pattern to clear the outstanding lawsuits that have been filed against the company.
Whenever a company creates a product that either fails or injures its user in some way, the most common way to pursue justice is a product liability lawsuit against the company. If you or a loved one have been injured, contact New Hampshire personal injury attorneys Tenn And Tenn today. Let our attorneys review your personal injury claim and outline for you the best course of action.