California lawsuit claims more GM vehicles faulty than in recall

Tue Mar 25, 2014 8:14pm EDT
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By Jessica Dye

(Reuters) - A lawsuit against General Motors Co filed this week in San Francisco seeking class action status includes plaintiffs who own cars outside GM's recall of 1.6 million vehicles.

The suit claims that a wider set of GM vehicles than the company has recalled have faulty ignition switches. Chevrolet Cobalt cars made as late as 2010 had poor placement of the ignition switch that made it easier for drivers to inadvertently bump keys into the "accessory" position which, the suit filed by a coalition of U.S. law firms claims, renders airbags useless in a crash.

Most of the vehicles GM has recalled are Cobalt cars from model years 2005 to 2007 or Saturn Ion cars from model years 2003 to 2007.

A separate wrongful-death lawsuit, filed in Alabama by a former employee of Delphi Automotive, maker of ignition switches supplied to GM, claims the automaker concealed information about the ignition switch responsible for a crash that killed his daughter.

That lawsuit was brought by Steve Smith in Alabama state court on Monday and names GM as a defendant, as well as Delphi which supplied the ignition switch to GM.

Both lawsuits were filed on Monday.

GM in February recalled 1.6 million vehicles and issued related service bulletins to dealers with suggested remedies in 2005. GM has linked the ignition switch problems to 12 deaths. The company has apologized for how it handled the recall.

The suit seeking nationwide class action status involves 13 named plaintiffs from nine states and the number of plaintiffs is expected to grow, according to a statement by one of law firms involved, Grant & Eisenhofer.   Continued...

General Motors Co's new chief executive Mary Barra addresses the media during a roundtable meeting with journalists in Detroit, Michigan January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/Pool