On Feb. 13, 2014, General Motors (GM) recalled 780,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and certain Pontiac vehicles to repair an ignition switch problem that can allow the key to unintentionally slip from its “run” position when the car hits a bump or if the keychain is too heavy. As a result, the defect can cause an engine shutdown and loss of power steering, brakes, and safety systems, including its airbags and anti-lock brakes.
The ignition switch problem has been linked to 31 crashes involving airbags that failed to deploy and the deaths of 13 motorists.
On Feb. 25, GM expanded the recall to include hundreds of thousands of additional Chevy, Pontiac, and Saturn cars, bringing the total number of affected vehicles to 1.4 million.
However, depositions taken during a civil lawsuit against GM revealed the automaker knew in 2004, a decade before it issued a recall, that its Chevrolet Cobalt had an ignition switch that could inadvertently shut off the engine while driving.
Then, on Tuesday, the federal government began to look into the matter, with the possibility of lodging criminal charges in the handling of the recall. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, along with other committee leaders, sent a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra and acting head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) David Friedman, giving them two weeks to provide documentation and incident reports regarding the ignition switch problems.
Beasley Allen attorneys are investigating cases involving serious injuries or deaths resulting from crashes involving the 2005-2007 Chevy Cobalt, or model year 2003-2007 Pontiac G5, Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. For more information, contact Mike Andrews at 800-898-2034.