MONTGOMERY, ALA. (November 13, 2014) – An investigation into who at General Motors (GM) knew about a problem with a defective ignition switch in its vehicles, and when they knew it, continues to turn up evidence of a cover-up. Lawyers from Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., and The Cooper Firm in Marietta, Ga., are in the early stages of discovery in the case of 29-year-old Brooke Melton, who was killed in a 2010 crash of her Chevy Cobalt linked to the defective GM ignition switch. A chain of internal GM emails from December 2013 to February 2014 – prior to the recall – reveals a GM employee ordering replacement parts from its supplier, Delphi, to fix a known ignition switch problem.
“Based on what we have learned from discovery in the Melton case and from our private meetings with Delphi, I am convinced the General Motors cover-up is one of the most massive cover-ups in history by an automaker of a known safety related design defect that has killed and injured hundreds if not thousands of people,” said Beasley Allen Principal & Founder Jere Beasley. As one of the trial team that secured a landmark verdict against Toyota for its sudden unintended acceleration problems, Beasley is all too familiar with this game the automakers play. “The General Motors cover-up is on a par with the massive cover-up by Toyota of its sudden acceleration safety problems,” he says. “General Motors knew about the defect shortly after the ignition switch was designed – had actual knowledge of both test failures and real world failures – and did not report its findings to NHTSA or recall millions of affected vehicles.”
By law, auto manufacturers must inform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of a safety defect within five business days of discovering it and promptly submit a recall plan. GM has repeatedly denied it knew of the ignition switch defect, now blamed for at least 32 deaths and several hundred injuries, before launching a recall in February. GM has repeatedly blamed the delay on a broken corporate structure and incompetence rather than willful neglect.
GM’s defective ignition switch has prompted the recall of more than 17 million vehicles to date. The ignition switch problem can leave a vehicle without power and the driver unable to control the vehicle in sudden and dangerous situations. Investigations have revealed GM knew about the ignition switch defect for 11 years before disclosing it to safety regulators and the public.