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Law360 Reports GM Settles Second Faulty Ignition Switch Lawsuit; Documents Indicate Cover Up

According to Law360, millions of documents have allegedly been produced in a Georgia lawsuit showing General Motors engaged in a “massive cover up” to hide a deadly ignition switch defect.

Brooke Melton was killed on her 29th birthday in 2010 when her car lost power and slid into an oncoming car. An expert engineer looked at the car’s wreckage and discovered a problem with the ignition switch, which allowed the key to slip from the “on” to the “accessory” position and shut off her power steering and power brakes. The Melton’s sued GM, and a subsequent deposition of a GM engineer revealed undocumented changes were made to the switch. GM settled the lawsuit for $5 million in September 2013. Five months later, GM recalled 2.6 million vehicles for a faulty ignition switch. The problem has been linked to 64 deaths and 108 injuries. The company admitted it knew of problems with its ignition switches as early as 2001. Federal regulators levied a $35 million fine and the U.S. Department of Justice began an ongoing criminal investigation.

Last year, the Melton’s returned the $5 million settlement and sued GM again, alleging a key GM witness committed perjury in their suit and GM hid evidence about the faulty ignition switches. They argued GM negotiated the 2013 settlement by misleading them about the scope of the defect.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Delphi Automotive PLC—the supplier of the problematic switch—produced millions of documents in this second lawsuit that detail communications between GM and its internal and outside lawyers. These documents allegedly show GM engaged in a cover up and fraud related to the switch. GM tried and failed to get the lawsuit dismissed.

Recently GM settled the second lawsuit, supplementing the Melton’s previous $5 million settlement in an undisclosed amount. While the documents are currently under seal, it is believed the documents will join the pool of discovery in the federal multidistrict litigation in New York over the ignition switch defect, In re General Motors LLC Ignition Switch Litigation (MDL No. 2543).


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