Despite hurdles, Delphi's liability in GM recall could be tested

Thu Apr 3, 2014 7:34am EDT
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Jessica Dye

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Delphi Automotive's name does not appear on the outside of the 2.6 million vehicles recalled by General Motors Co since February, but the company is getting drawn into a mounting wave of litigation for its role in producing the faulty ignition switch that prompted the recalls.

Plaintiffs have now named Delphi, one of the largest auto parts suppliers in the world, in at least two lawsuits stemming from the recall. One was filed by a former Delphi employee whose daughter was killed in a 2013 crash involving a recalled 2006 Chevy Cobalt, the other by customers who claim the ignition problems caused their cars to lose value.

Delphi's legal exposure may hinge on how much control it had over decisions involving the design of the switch, and the terms of its four-year bankruptcy, which ended in 2009.

While Delphi made the part, GM set the specifications and ultimately approved its use, according to documents from civil litigation and congressional investigations.

Delphi spokeswoman Claudia Tapia declined to comment, except to say that the company was "working cooperatively with GM on this matter." The company has not yet filed responses to the two lawsuits. GM spokesman Jim Cain said that Delphi owned the intellectual property for the switch but declined to comment on questions of liability or lawsuits.

The February and March recalls center on concerns that ignition switches supplied by Delphi could unexpectedly turn off engines during operation and leave airbags, power steering and power brakes inoperable.

GM has linked the defect to 13 deaths and has apologized for how it handled the recall and said it is committed to helping affected customers.

BANKRUPTCY SHIELD   Continued...

 
The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan in this file photograph taken August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky/Files