Two personal injury lawsuits filed against auto giant General Motors in federal court in New York have been settled, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs. GM says these are the last claims linked to a defective ignition switch that would cut off power to vehicles, often at high speeds on highways.
According to company officials, the safety defect has been tied to at least 124 deaths. GM initiated a recall of more than six million cars in 2014, and previously settled prospective claims, as well as legal action filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, for more than $2 billion, including a $900 million fine imposed as part of a criminal complaint against the company.
An independent investigation revealed that General Motors knew about the problem for more than 10 years, but failed to take any action whatsoever, even though the company’s own safety engineers had compiled evidence that the problem was real.
Testimony at a number of trials indicated that the faulty ignition switch was used in both the Chevy Cobalt and the Pontiac G5. Evidence showed that General Motors had internal meetings to discuss concerns about the switch as early as 2005. GM never actually disclosed knowledge of the defect to the public. Instead, the problem and the company’s knowledge of it came to light during discovery proceedings in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against GM. Attorneys in that case obtained testimony from GM engineers and found written evidence in documents produced by the company.
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