GM ignition switch suit dismissed, but company isn’t out of hot water just yet

One case that was brought against the company petitioning for damages has been dismissed, but it's only one of many that are still seeking retribution.

John Gress/Reuters/File
A recalled Chevy Cobalt ignition switch is seen at Raymond Chevrolet in Antioch, Illinois, July 17, 2014. A judged on Friday dismissed a suit against General Motors relating to faulty ignition switches after inconsistencies emerged in the plaintiff’s testimony.

A trial that could have helped settled hundreds of the lawsuits that arose out of General Motors’ ignition-switch scandal has been dismissed.

The case, which centered on a postman from Oklahoma, was dismissed when the judge questioned the accuracy of the plaintiff’s testimony, including the validity of the evidence he presented. While this case has been tossed, though, cases involving other plaintiffs will continue.

The plaintiff’s lawyer, Robert Hillard, said it was disappointing the trial had been forced to end, “especially one such as this where the concerns regarding the underlying safety of certain GM's vehicles are legitimate and real."

There have been nearly 1,400 lawsuits stemming from deaths and injuries related to the faulty ignition switches. In September 2015, GM paid $575 million to settle many of them. Some of that money also went to settle a 2014 class-action lawsuit brought against the company by its shareholders, who alleged that GM’s attempts to withhold information about the switches had reduced their value of their shares.

GM has also paid approximately $900 million as a fine in a settlement that resolved a criminal investigation into the ignition-switch failure. GM was targeted by a criminal investigation because its employees knew about the problem a decade before it began car recalls.

GM recalled approximately 26 million cars in 2014, the majority of which were tied to the ignition-switch issue, and has since recalled thousands more. The automaker says it has since fixed the problem. While 26 million may seem like a very high number, GM was only responsible for 14 percent of all recalls issued that year, as MarketWatch reports.

One of the issues in bringing forward lawsuits against GM is that, per a ruling made in April 2015, the company is completely protected from such claims if they relate to deaths or injuries that occurred before the company was restructured in 2009. Those injured after the new company was created in a vehicle that was built before the company went bankrupt can still file a lawsuit, but those who were either killed or injured before GM restructured can’t petition for damages from the new GM.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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