U.S. judge declines to order 'park it now' notices for GM cars

Thu Apr 17, 2014 3:00pm EDT
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By Jessica Dye

(Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday rejected a bid to compel General Motors Co to tell customers to stop driving millions of cars that have been recalled for defective ignition switches.

Attorneys representing Charles and Grace Silvas, the owners of a recalled 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt, had sought an emergency order directing GM to issue "park it now" notices for the 2.6 million vehicles that have been recalled since February over the switches. The notices would have told owners that the cars were too dangerous to remain on the road.

GM opposed the motion, arguing that the vehicles were safe to drive as long as nothing extra was attached to the key while it was in the ignition.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi, Texas, denied the request in a ruling on Thursday, saying that she would defer to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal agency that oversees auto safety.

"The court is of the opinion that NHTSA is far better equipped than this court to address the broad and complex issues of automotive safety and the regulation of automotive companies in connection with the nationwide recall," Ramos wrote.

A spokesman for GM, Greg Martin, said the company respected the court's decision.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Robert Hilliard of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales, called it a "sad day for tomorrow's victim."

"Unfortunately at GM, when profits come up against morality, profits seldom lose," he said in a statement.   Continued...

GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra testifies during a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington April 1, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque