New York, New York

HomeNew YorkNew York

Email Steven Cohn
Steven Cohn
Steven Cohn
Attorney • (888) 480-1123

First GM Ignition Switch Case Goes to Trial in New York MDL

Comments Off

General Motors (GM) may be finished with their settlement fund, but it is not done dealing with claims stemming from its alleged faulty ignition switches.

Plaintiffs who didn’t file claims with the fund or who refused settlement offers were still eligible to file ignition switch lawsuits against the company, and hundreds of those lawsuits are proceeding in consolidated litigation in the Southern District of New York and in other courts across the nation.

Now, the first case has gone to trial. According to ABC News, it’s proceeding in Manhattan federal court, and involves the case of an Oklahoma crash that resulted in injury to the driver. This is the first of six bellwether trials planned for the GM ignition switch MDL.

Plaintiff Blames Faulty Ignition Switch for Crash Injuries

According to Reuters, the plaintiff, Robert Scheuers, says he was driving his 2003 Saturn Ion in May 2014 when he ran off the highway, “became airborne and then struck the ground and trees.” The air bag allegedly failed to deploy, and Scheuers claims it was because the ignition switch had inadvertently turned to the “off” position, robbing the air bag of power.

According to the complaint, Scheuers bought the vehicle in the summer of 2003. It later came under the February 2014 GM recall because of a potentially defective ignition switch. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated in a recall letter that the ignition switch could “unintentionally move from the ‘run’ position to the ‘accessory’ or ‘off’ position with a corresponding reduction or loss of power.”

The plaintiff received recall notices in April and May of 2014, notifying him that the company was working on replacement parts, and that in the meantime, he should remove any extra items from the keying, leaving only the vehicle key. The plaintiff checked with his local dealership, but was told they didn’t have parts yet to fix his car, so he removed everything from the key ring and continued to drive it.

In May, he was driving on the highway when another vehicle forced him off the road. He crashed into two trees and the front air bags did not deploy. As a result of the accident, he has suffered continuous neck and back pain. He blames the non-deployment on the ignition switch defect, and claims that GM failed to warn him about the risks even after he complied with their instructions to remove all extra items from the key ring.

GM Tried for Bankruptcy Protection, but Failed

In this case, GM argues that there is no proof that Scheuers’ injuries were caused by a faulty ignition switch. They also tried to get the case dismissed because the vehicle was made prior to their 2009 bankruptcy, claiming that the “new” GM has no liability for “old” GM vehicles. The judge rejected their motion, claiming that the company had a duty to warn the plaintiff of the defect and its risks.

According to Scheuers’ GM ignition switch attorney, he is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages, based on “new” GM’s post-bankruptcy conduct, and GM’s failure to properly warn consumers of the dangers while awaiting replacement parts.

The second GM ignition switch trial in the current MDL is scheduled to begin on March 14, 2016.