Victims and their families are preparing to file a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after a federal judge declined a “park it now” motion seeking to ground recalled GM vehicles.
Victims to Petition NHTSA
The announcement came Thursday that Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos would not grant the emergency motion asking the court to compel GM to ground all recalled vehicles until repairs were made. The judge in her decisions said, “The court is of the opinion that NHTSA is far better equipped than this Court to address the broad and complex issues of automotive safety and the regulation of automotive companies in connection with a nationwide recall.”
Lead attorney Thomas J. Henry stated, “While we respect the court’s decision in this matter, we have hundreds of clients who have experience this fatal defect firsthand. Our clients will not give up their fight to get these cars off the road.”
Clients of the firm have said they plan to take the court’s advice and file a petition with NHTSA to remove the cars from the road.
About the Park It Now Motion
The Emergency Motion, called the “park it now” motion was filed on March 28 in U.S. Federal court in Corpus Christi, TX. Arguments were heard on April 4 and the judge’s decision was announced on April 17. Victims and their families argued the only way to ensure there are no more victims of the defective ignition switches is for GM to tell owners not to drive the vehicles until they are repaired.
Approximately 2.2 million Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Saturn vehicles have defective ignition switches that can fail, causing a loss of vehicle power, loss of power steering and non-deployment of airbags. GM has acknowledged 13 deaths linked to the defective switches, although some estimates suggest as many as 303 deaths associated with the recalled vehicles.
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A new study published in the online edition of Pediatrics says that prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increases the risk of children having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delays (DD).
Details of the SSRI study
According to Psych Central, the John Hopkins study was conducted by researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and examined a group of 1,000 mother-child pairs. The study found that prenatal exposure to SSRIs increased the risk of a child having ASD by three times.
Li-Ching Lee, Ph.D., Sc.M. said, “We found prenatal SSRI exposure was nearly three times as likely in boys with ASD relative to typical development, with the greatest risk when exposure took place during the first trimester.” Researchers also noted that SSRI exposure, especially in the third trimester, elevated the risk of DD in boys.
The study included children aged two through five of both genders, although a majority of children were boys. Researchers also used a uniform protocol to confirm diagnoses of ASD and DD. Children in the study were split into three groups: those with autism spectrum disorder, those with developmental delays and those with typical development.
About Autism Spectrum Disorder
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 68 children are identified as having autism spectrum disorder. The CDC notes, however, that numbers of children identified with ASD varies dramatically between communities. ASD is nearly 5 times more likely to be identified in boys than girls.
The CDC says autism spectrum disorder “is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges… The learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.”
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In a letter sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made public on Wednesday, Delphi Automotive disclosed that GM engineers requested changes to ignition switches in 2006 after test drivers complained of engine stalls after bumping ignition keys with their knees.
Complaints about the 2007 Cadillac SRX
According to the Wall Street Journal, new documents released by NHTSA on Wednesday show that test drivers of the 2007 Cadillac SRX reported engine stalls after bumping the ignition switch with their knee. The complaints prompted GM engineers to request Delphi make changes to the switches.
The new documents do not disclose the name of who at GM requested the change. It also does not show if engineers assigned to the Cobalt and small car program were aware of the Cadillac complaints.
Cobalt Switches Changed in 2006
Around the same time as complaints were made about the Cadillac SRX switches, the ignition switches in the Cobalts, Ions and other models was also quietly changed. Normally, a redesigned part would be assigned its own separate part number, but for unknown reasons, the new ignition switch was given the same part number as its defective predecessor.
Last week, GM suspended two engineers in charge of the Cobalt program. One of those engineers, Ray DeGiorgio, had testified that he was unaware of changes made to the ignition switches. Documents released as part of ongoing investigations into the recall, however, showed DeGiorgio had in fact authorized the redesign in 2006.
GM Rejected Safer Switch in 2001
Also on Wednesday, Clarence Ditlow from the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) and former NHTSA director Joan Claybrook sent a letter GM alleging the automaker rejected a safer ignition switch in 2001 due to costs.
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