In 2014, General Motors recalled 1.4 million cars with faulty ignition switches. The most serious problems occurred in the Chevrolet Cobalt from model years 2005-2010 and the Saturn Ion from model years 2003-2007. More than 400 people died from the faulty ignition switches, which cause the cars to crash and more importantly, not only because of no power but also because of failed airbags.
There is an internal memo from the files of General Motors on file that shows a service technician encountered the same power failure that causes the crashes. The memo is dated 2003, two years previously, General Motors noted that the ignition switches in the Saturn Ion would sometimes slip to either “accessory” or “off” but they tried an “in-the-field” fix which was unsuccessful. In 2004, during test drives of the Cobalt, General Motors again saw problems related to this issue. Thereafter, General Motors bean counters determined that recalling and fixing defective cars would cost more than what they figured they would be paid in lawsuits related to injuries and deaths caused by defective parts. Additionally, GM was confident it could hide its knowledge about faulty switches if any accidents were to occur.
The GM airbag recall lawsuits that were filed in 2013 and estimated 1.6 million people were impacted by crashes and injuries because the recalls failed to protect them from the alleged defects, requiring replacement of the front driver side airbag, the side front passenger airbag, and sometimes even both.
General Motors’ recall had serious problems, including fires and brakes that would suddenly disengage. In some cases, GM will not guarantee repairs for cars outside the original batch of recalled cars but with the ignition problem.
In California, a class-action lawsuit seeks redress for the injuries and deaths of 13 people and nine states. It also seeks to compensate car owners whose General Motors vehicles have lost value because of multiple recalls.
In 1978, in a case adjudicated in a jury trial, the largest award to plaintiffs was given, almost 40 years ago. The ruling said that the Ford Motor Company should be held legally responsible for an explosion of gas fumes on the dashboard of the car and causing severe personal injury to victims and their families so that it had to pay $127.8 million. This decision was seen as a decisive precedent by modern lawyers who hope that this is one of their main key backs for their claim seeking damages of up to $5 billion in damages from General Motors due to many reported and unreported cases involving ignition switches on certain Delphi vehicles.