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Legal Action in GM Ignition Recall Heats Up

Tina Robinson2 years ago

Last week, General Motors released the results of an internal inquiry into defective ignition switches linked to 13 deaths and 54 crashes. The report, written by former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas, detailed more than a decade of incompetence and neglect which CEO Mary Barra described as “deeply painful.” Now, a new report from the Wall Street Journal, says legal action involving the 2.6 million recalled vehicles is just beginning.

More than 80 Civil Suits Filed

Already more than 80 civil lawsuits involving the defective switches have been filed nationwide. Plaintiffs’ attorneys are seeking to recover alleged economic damages as well as compensation for those seriously injured or killed in accidents involving the dangerous vehicles.

In the case of economic damages, lawyers could seek about $500 to $1,000 per vehicle for vehicle depreciation caused by the recall.

Lawyers such as Bob Hilliard have also filed a handful of lawsuits seeking damages for serious injury and death. Hilliard, along with Thomas J. Henry, have signed up several hundred such clients.

GM Compensation Fund

One option for families whose loved ones were injured or killed is a GM compensation fund that was announced last week. Attorney Ken Feinberg was hired by the automaker to make recommendations about a GM fund. Barra and GM President Dan Amman both confirmed that such a fund would be available, although details about eligibility have not been announced. Those decisions, said Amman, would be the sole discretion of Feinberg. Feinberg’s recommendations are expected later this month and claims could be accepted as soon as Aug. 1.

Some victims may opt to pursue litigation. Although bankruptcy laws shield GM from liability for accidents that happened prior to July 2009, lawyers are looking to have that overturned on the grounds that GM knew about the defect and hid that information. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber is expected to rule by the end of the summer whether suits against “old” GM will be allowed.

Thomas J. Henry is representing more than 1,000 GM recall victims across the United States and has been investigating injuries and deaths linked to the recall since day one. The firm launched a nationwide media investigation into the recall in April, which brought forth thousands of affected individuals who had information critical to the investigation – information that the firm has handed over to federal agencies also investigating GM’s sluggish response the recall. As more and more individuals have flocked to Thomas J. Henry for representation, the firm has continued to push GM for a victim settlement fund. The firm has had several talks with GM’s victim compensation expert Ken Feinberg regarding appropriate victim compensation for the thousands affected by a fatal design flaw in ignition switches which left numerous dead and countless others seriously injured. 

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