New York, New York

HomeNew YorkNew York

Email Eric T. Chaffin Eric T. Chaffin on Twitter Eric T. Chaffin on Facebook Eric T. Chaffin on Avvo
Eric T. Chaffin
Eric T. Chaffin
Attorney • (888) 480-1123

More Death Claims Approved Through GM’s Ignition Switch Settlement Fund

Comments Off

When General Motors (GM) first started implementing recalls to replace defective ignition switches last February 2014, they acknowledged 13 deaths as having been related to those faulty switches. As of March 30, 2015, that number had risen to 77.

The company set up an independent settlement fund to evaluate injury claims last August 2014. People who had been injured or family members of those who were killed in accidents related to the ignition switch problem could submit claims until January 31, 2015. That deadline has passed, but administrators are still reviewing claims and expect to continue to do so until about July.

Over 200 Claimants Receive Payouts through GM’s Settlement Fund

The fund received a total of 4,342 claims by the end of January this year. Of those, 77 have now been deemed eligible for wrongful death settlements, with payouts of at least $1 million. A total of 141 injury claims were also approved, some of which involved permanent brain damage, amputations, and paralysis. Payments for these claims are calculated individually, with factors like the severity of the injury, the required long-term care, and the affect on the individual’s ability to work in the future affecting the amount.

Over 1,200 claims are still pending review.

GM has set aside between $400 and $600 million to cover the settlement payments. So far, that amount looks like it’s going to be adequate. The company also faces additional personal injury lawsuits that have been filed in courts across the country, and are separate from those claims filed with the settlement fund.

Most Plaintiffs Accepting GM Payouts

Most plaintiffs offered payouts through the settlement fund have accepted them. In doing so, they give up their rights to pursue any additional litigation against GM for the ignition switch defects. Five plaintiffs rejected the settlement offers, which leaves them the option of pursuing their cases in court.

In June of 2014, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established the GM ignition switch MDL, centralizing all federal lawsuits into one court in the Southern District of New York. The first bellwether trials have been scheduled for January 2016.

Family Settles with GM for Second Time

GM recently settled another outside lawsuit with the family of Brooke Melton, who was killed in a car accident in 2010. She was driving a Chevrolet Cobalt when she lost control of the vehicle, collided with another car, and dropped into a creek. She died shortly afterwards in the hospital.

The Melton family initially settled with GM in September 2013, but as the recalls gained steam in 2014, they began to suspect that the company had concealed some information in the trial. Evidence shows that GM was aware of the ignition switch problem as far back as 2004, but failed to take appropriate action to protect their customers.

Claiming GM had made false assertions during the first trial, the Melton’s filed again in May 2014. They claimed that had they known GM employees knew about the problem long before their daughter’s accident, they never would have accepted the first settlement offer.

The Melton’s GM lawyer reached a second settlement agreement with the company on March 13, 2015, for an undisclosed amount.