GM Misled Families on Lethal Flaw in Ignition Switch

Nearly five years ago, General Motors learned in a meeting that data in the black boxes of Chevrolet Cobalts confirmed a potentially fatal defect existed in hundreds of thousand of cars. However, in the months and years that followed, G.M. told families of accident victims and other customers that they did not have enough evidence of any defect in their cars. Last month, G.M. recalled 1.6 million Cobalts and other smalls cars, stating that the ignition switch was faulty and could shut off the engine’s power and disable air bags.

In March 2010, the Kosilla family lost their daughter, Amy in a Cobalt accident after the air bags failed to deploy. G.M. told the Kosilla family that “there’s nothing to this.”

Since the meeting in 2009, there have been at least 23 fatal crashes involving the recalled vehicles. A New York Times review found that G.M. had pushed back against families in at least two of the accidents, threatening to come after them for reimbursement of legal fees if the families did not withdraw its lawsuit. G.M. also reached settlements that required the victims never to disclose information discussed in conversations.

“We are conducting an unsparing, comprehensive review of the circumstances leading to the ignition switch recall,” G.M. said in a statement. “As part of that review we are examining previous claims and our response to them. If anything changes as a result of our review, we will promptly bring that to the attention of regulators.”

G.M. has said it has evidence that the faulty ignition switch is tied to 12 deaths, but says that they all occurred in 2009 or earlier. A bankruptcy agreement shields them from any liability for accidents occurring before July 10, 2009.

By the end of 2007, G.M. had examined data from nine “sensing and diagnostic modules” of crashed vehicles. In four cases, the ignition was in the accessory position. But it was not until May 15, 2009, that G.M. engineers verified the data. There is no indication that the engineers shared this finding with supervisors or executives. One reason may have been distraction: Two weeks later, the company filed for bankruptcy.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident due to a faulty part, contact Jacob & Meyers today. We can help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Read more about this article from the NYTimes


Dear friends and clients,

In furtherance of our firms culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can. 

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Jacoby & Meyers, LLP