In an incredible revelation of its true character, General Motors (GM) is trying to move the Melton v. General Motors lawsuit behind the protection of its “old GM” bankruptcy firewall instead of living up to the promise by its CEO to do the right thing by victims of its long-withheld ignition switch defect, which it now admits is linked to more than 13 deaths. Ken and Beth Melton, parents of 29-year-old Brooke Melton, who was killed in a 2010 crash linked to the ignition switch defect, refiled their wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their daughter on May 12. Rather than leaving the civil liability lawsuit in the State Court in Cobb County, Ga., where it was filed, GM is now attempting to remove the case to federal court and then to the multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New York federal court.
“We are on track in state court to move forward with getting answers to the lies told by GM in the Melton case,” said Beasley Allen Founding Shareholder Jere Beasley. GM wants to delay for months on end by trying to move the case to federal court. GM did not remove the case when it was initially filed a few years ago. This latest move is blatant evidence that GM is again lying – lying to Congress, lying to NHTSA, to the public and, most importantly, lying to victims’ families. They have been telling everyone that GM will do the right thing and now in the Melton case, GM is trying to move the case from Georgia to New York. We will oppose this wrongful removal.”
“In today’s federal court filings, not only did GM wrongfully remove the Melton’s case from Cobb County, GM accuses the Meltons of fraudulent conduct in re-filing the lawsuit in Cobb County,” added Lance Cooper, founder of The Cooper Firm. “It is, no doubt, ironic that in its first court filing after Ms. Barra’s press conference – during which she promised GM would do the right thing – GM and its lawyers accuse a victim’s family of fraud when that family is simply asking that they have an opportunity to have their day in court.”
When GM CEO Mary Barra addressed her employees and the public last week, she expressed sympathy for victims and their families, saying, “I realize there are no words of mine that can ease their grief and pain. But as I lead GM through this crisis, I want everyone to know that I am guided by two clear principles: First that we do the right thing for those who were harmed; and, second, that we accept responsibility for our mistakes and commit to doing everything within our power to prevent this problem from ever happening again.” Later in her speech, she said again, “… we are going to do the right thing for the affected parties.”
“It would appear that once again GM’s actions speak louder than its words,” Beasley said. “I don’t trust GM to do the right thing and this latest ploy is direct proof.”
GM recalled about 780,000 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles on Feb. 13. Twelve days later, it expanded the recall to include an additional 590,000 model-year 2003-07 Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky vehicles. The total number of recalled vehicles now numbers about 2.6 million related to an ignition switch defect that allows the key to unintentionally slip from the “run” to “off” or “accessory” position while the vehicle is being operated. The ignition defect causes the sudden loss of engine power, braking and steering, creating a hazardous emergency situation. The airbag system is also disabled and rendered useless.
Court documents and other evidence reveal that GM knew about the ignition switch problem as early as 2001. However, GM rejected several design changes and solutions that were recommended by its own engineers on numerous occasions because of the cost and the time it would take to make the changes. Its collective willingness to ignore problems is one of the reasons why GM failed to adhere to federal regulations and recall its ignition switches despite years of incident complaints, crash reports, failed engineering tests, and repeated warnings from a GM lawyer that the company “could be accused of egregious conduct” in lawsuits involving failed airbags in Chevy Cobalts and other small cars.
Beasley Allen and The Cooper Firm have filed lawsuits related to the ignition switch defect. Lance Cooper, founder of The Cooper Firm, is the lawyer who first discovered GM’s ignition switch defect and uncovered the automaker’s cover-up, which finally led to massive recalls.
In the News
ABC News – Lawyers: GM Seeks Bankruptcy Shield From Lawsuit
Bloomberg News – GM Georgia Move Previews Handling of Switch Injury Claims
Law 360 – GM Takes Georgia Ignition Defect Case To Federal Court
Daily Report – Parents Who Regret GM Deal Fight to Keep Case in Cobb
Automotive News – GM Georgia move may preview handling of switch injury litigation
National Law Journal – GM Suits Moved Into Slow Lane