By on March 30, 2016

 

Ren Cen. GM

A federal jury has concluded that while General Motors sold cars with defective ignition switches, they weren’t the cause of a Louisiana accident, Reuters is reporting.

The two-week trial — the second related to the scandal — concerned the crash of a 2007 Saturn Sky on a New Orleans bridge that complainants Dionne Spain and Lawrence Barthelemy said was caused by a faulty ignition switch.

GM countered the suit by claiming the crash was caused by icy roads, and not the faulty ignition switches linked to 124 deaths. Their attorney, Mike Brock, contended that the accident was part of a weather-related pile-up, and that the complainant’s Sky wasn’t travelling fast enough to cause significant damage or injuries.

The verdict stated that while the ignition switch rendered the vehicle “unreasonably dangerous,” and GM didn’t warn the public of the dangers, the accident couldn’t be blamed on it.

As a result, the complainants won’t be awarded damages for the accident, despite claiming to have suffered injuries from it.

The automaker won a partial victory on March 28 when a key fraud claim was thrown out of court. An earlier trial targeting GM failed to reach a verdict.

GM began recalling about 800,000 affected vehicles in February, 2014. To date, it has paid out about $2 billion in penalties and settlements related to the ignition issue.

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23 Comments on “BREAKING: Jury Says GM Sold Faulty Ignition Switches, But They Didn’t Cause Crash...”


  • avatar

    We got Toyota for unintended acceleration.

    We got Hyundai for iffy MPG ratings.

    We got GM for ingnition switches.

    Got Takata for airbags.

    Got Volkswagon for rolling coal.

    WHO’S NEXT?

    I’ve got a GRAND IDEA!!!

    Let’s go after minorities with superchargers in their cars!!!

    Let’s start with NYC.

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    Did anyone watch Matt Farah’s One Take with the Cobalt? The car had NOT had the ignition recall done and Matt was able to shut the car down by just jiggling the keys. Scary stuff.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “To date, it has paid out about 42 billion in penalties and settlements related to the ignition issue.”

    42 billion? Was this a typo? GM’s market cap is only $48.03 billion and this has been going on for what, the past two maybe three years?

    http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=GM

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I think the title and story are a little bit misleading. Probably not your fault as I am seeing it reported in various ways at other outlets.

    I think the verdict was that 1) yes GM created an unreasonable risk to the public with the ignition switches 2) The ignition switch was not the cause in this crash.

    Thus, using the phrase “GM is liable for ignition switch” is not really accurate. From what I am reading, no monetary damages were awarded thus, this is victory for GM I believe.

    Anyone? Seems the headlines are contrary to what’s being reported or that they authors maybe don’t understand what happened. There is also the possibility that I am wrong, I thought it happened once before, but I was mistaken.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Per Reuters: “eight jurors deliberated less than a day to decide that a Saturn Sky in the car crash on a bridge in New Orleans was ‘unreasonably dangerous’ and that GM failed to warn the public about its safety risks.”

      GM is calling that a win.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        I’m a lawyer, generally, when you don’t have to pay money to the other side…… its a win. Like I said below, GM has basically admitted that the ignition was faulty and unreasonably dangerous by setting up the victims compensation fund so not really groundbreaking in that jury’s verdict.

        I read a few articles that were all pretty brief on the outcome, a lot of conflicting statements reported on what exactly happened in the verdict.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2016/03/jury_says_gm_not_at_fault_for.html

          It sounds as if GM was not liable for this particular crash but the jury agreed that the part was defective.

          If that is accurate and serves as a sort of precedent, then I will presume that the net result of this case is that future cases involving the ignitions will include arguments that jurors should not automatically presume that GM owns 100% of the negligence due to the failure or possible failure of the ignition. That might lead to more settlements as plaintiffs lawyers see that the odds of winning are not as favorable as they may have thought.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Contributory negligence is a factor in what damages will be awarded, and whom will have to pay them, or how they will offset GM’s financial liability, to various degrees by state law.

            As a matter of fact, most jurisdictions reduce awards for pain & suffering and/or economic loss by 10% if the person injured wasn’t wearing a seat belt at the time of injuries sustained, as a matter of statutory strict liability.

            This is actually a bad outcome for GM, despite no damages being awarded to the instant plaintiff (due to their presumed failure to prove threshold injuries and/or that the ignition switch defect was the proximate cause of those alleged injuries.

            Another jury ruled, after all evidence was submitted, that GM’s ignition switch is a defective, dangerous condition.

            Apply that ruling on the facts and evidence to another case where injury or death occurs, and proximate cause between defective ignition switch and that injury or death is established, and it’s going to be a bad day, every day, for GM.

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          I don’t handle auto cases but the proximate cause issue is a finding of fact and will have to be handled separately in every case. The finding of negligence or manufacturing/design defect should also be a question of fact that would not be precedent in future cases. However, I think this may be some sort of combined docket where all the pending cases were consolidated so I am not really sure if rulings from one case would affect the next with the way this is set up.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I haven’t really been following it that closely, but as I understand it, GM making the victim compensation fund is basically an admission of fault for the ignition switches. The cases coming to court now are people who were rejected by the fund as GM feels that the ignition switches had nothing to do with the crashes/injuries/deaths in question. My guess is that any publicity on this is bad for GM so they would probably only pick cases to reject that were fairly obvious slam dunks in a courtroom.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    make sure this is read by the VW fans who claim GM got off with a “slap on the wrist.”

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      My feeling is VW will remove itself from the US and close the dealerships. Save it money in the long run and looks like it will fix the affected cars. Getting money from the organisation, could make the whole issue a lot nastier

      • 0 avatar
        Hydromatic

        I still believe VW will somehow come away from its woes with a figurative slap on the wrist. The EPA will broker a settlement of sorts so it can still say it has teeth. VW won’t be run out of the US on a rail.

  • avatar
    1audiofile

    I was not privy to all the testimony in the court case, but depending how an ignition switch failed and where the care was on the road I fail to understand how they could make a blanket statement about the accidents. If the car was heading into a sharp corner and the ignition switch failure cuts power to the engine the steering could suddenly become very difficult and the brakes could lose assist. If the car left the road due to this problem it is hard to understand the judgement. But again, I did not hear all the testimony.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      It’s a question of fact for jurors to decide, not a matter of law for the trial court (i.e. judge) to decide.

      In other words, whether or not the ignition switch is a defective, dangerous condition will not be the relevant issue to be established by the jury, but whether the malfunction of the ignition switch was the proximate cause of the alleged injuries or death will be the question of FACT that the jury (after hearing a battle of the defense and plaintiff expert witnesses) will alone decide.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    A few years ago my brother thought that he’d misplaced his keys to his company’s Impala SS only to realize he had them in my sister’s new Suburban ignition, which started and ran the same. With the security code and all, it was surprising then. Not so much now.

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