By on October 30, 2017


Ren Cen. GM

Earlier this month, General Motors agreed to a $120 million settlement over faulty ignition switches and the uncouth way in which it handled that particular, ahem, “safety issue.” The settlement applied to 49 states and the District of Columbia but not Orange County, California. That region of the U.S. required a separate case, an additional $13.9 million, and some exuberant scorning.

California faulted GM with not only selling defective vehicles but intentionally concealing serious safety defects through the careful usage of language.

Prosecutors claimed the company specifically trained its staff to never use words like “defect” or “stall,” and even avoid dealing with any safety issues whenever possible, while being simultaneously aware of a problem that ultimately resulted in the deaths of over 120 individuals. While this matter had been more-or-less settled via an earlier $900 million agreement (resulting from the Justice Department’s investigation, in 2015), it deferred direct criminal prosecution of the company for three years. Perhaps that caveat rubbed Californian prosecutors the wrong way and they wanted some additional retribution. 

Whatever the reason, an Orange County Superior Court judge approved the settlement for alleged violations of unfair competition and false advertising laws for some recalled vehicles on Friday evening. According to the Detroit Free Press, the automaker released a statement later that night confirming the matter was settled: “GM has reached a constructive settlement with Orange County, Calif. to resolve claims filed by the Orange County district attorney regarding the company’s advertising of vehicles that were subject to certain recalls in 2014, including the ignition-switch recall.”

The California settlement amounts to $13.9 million, but GM previously paid around $2.5 billion in penalties and settlements over the faulty ignition switches, which caused engines to stall and prevented airbags from deploying during collisions. The automaker has repeatedly assured the public that is has learned from its past mistakes and taken measures to improve the safety of its vehicles. A large part of that has been GM’s Speak Up for Safety program — established in 2014.

However, that’s aimed toward a brighter future, whereas this court case was targeted at an uglier past. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said it was his belief that GM absolutely failed to disclose important defects in power steering, airbag and braking systems.

“We must protect our consumers from businesses that put profits over people by keeping cars on roads safe and avoiding preventable accidents,” Rackauckas said in a statement. “We must also encourage all businesses to be fair and live up to safety standards, and must not allow those engaging in unfair practices to punish those businesses that don’t cut corners by compromising safety.”

While GM still faces countless civil suits in connection to the ignition switch recall, the California angle was among the last governmental cases against the company that had gone unsettled. Only State of Arizona vs General Motors is left to wrap up. Ironically, Arizona was the first state to pursue legal action against the manufacturer.

[Image: GM]

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27 Comments on “GM Ignition Defect Scandal Reaches Penultimate Chapter...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Before the haters come out, this is not about the ignition switch issue itself.

    This particular settlement was about GM’s false claim of selling ‘safe’ vehicles – which presumably gave it an unfair leg up on the competition – while knowing it still had unresolved safety issues.

    Sort of like having unprotected fun while knowing you have an STD.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      I’m sorry but this is ridiculous. Are you saying that you can’t claim to make “safe” cars unless the car is absolutely bulletproof and has no possible defects? In that case, no one has ever made and no one will ever make a “safe” car. A car has approximately 30,000 parts (counting each screw, etc. as a part) and it is impossible to make a car where all 30,000 parts will last forever and never develop any defect. The whole ignition switch thing was just a lawyer’s festival. Most of the folks had like 10 lbs. of keys on their keyring and the weight was enough to turn the switch. Also the idea that you are going to die the moment your car stalls is ridiculous – just put the car in neutral and restart it – I don’t know how many times I have had to do this over the years (especially back in the day) and I haven’t died even once.

      • 0 avatar

        Many of the deaths and accidents were recorded on the black box revealing higher than speed limit driving, driving off road, driving under the influence, driving unbuckled…you cannot engineer in stupid factor.

        I still have and use the recalled keys on my Saturn Sky with no pronlems. The key has a fob, and a house key and have had no problems.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Denver

          The black box can capture DUI? Is there a secret breathalyzer in the car? Or can it be inferred based on drunk style steering inputs?

          The problem (from a lawyer’s POV) is that virtually all single car accidents are a result of driver error but you can’t (in most cases) sue yourself for your own stupidity and collect money from your insurance company. So you need to find a third party, preferably a deep pocketed one like an auto manufacturer, to blame. Sure you were drunk and driving off the road, but you wouldn’t have died if the ignition switch hadn’t flipped off and disabled the airbags just before you hit that tree.

    • 0 avatar

      “This particular settlement was about GM’s false claim of selling ‘safe’ vehicles – which presumably gave it an unfair leg up on the competition”

      Not unlike VW’s false claims of selling “clean diesels” which gave it an unfair leg up on the competition –


  • avatar

    An interesting dilemma for some of the posters here, who now have to decide who they hate more, California or GM.

  • avatar

    a picture of a tall building is no indication of any leadership therein.

  • avatar

    More news (an endless stream) of the increasingly made in Mexico, China, etc.) scrap parts and collection of tensor parts that go into rolling garbage dumpster fires of vehicles that General Motors (GM: Either stands for Guangzhou Motors or Guadalajara Motors) produces.

    When the next cyclical, inevitable downturn in vehicle sales arrives (think much sooner rather than too much longer), Garbage Motors is one of the most vulnerable automakers in the world, due to a reliance on approx 94% of net profits from SUVs and (garbage can) pickup trucks.

    NormSVArea51’s Buick Dealer that he works at will have 200+ days of mold-collecting Buick and Chevys that they won’t be able to give away even with 40% off red-tag rolling dumpster fire sales.

    Jack Baruth will have trouble finding a Guadalajara Motors dealership that won’t fight him tooth and nail over whether his inevitable issues with his junk pickup truck are covered under warranty — Oh the irony of Jack Baruth worshipping the Trump feet, with groveling brother Mark in tow, chanting MAGA!, while buying Mexican-assembled pickups of largely Mexican-made parts!

    p.s. – A Happy Papadopoulos Halloween to members of the Royal Trumptardian Guard – it’s going to be a very Spooktakular MAGA’ing over the next several months!


  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    It’s truly a shame this site is turning into nothing but internet political trolls.

    Just exactly what did Trump have to do with GM junk?

    • 0 avatar

      “It’s truly a shame this site is turning into nothing but internet political trolls.

      Just exactly what did Trump have to do with GM junk?”

      You must be mistaken. Political hackery and personal attacks are banned on TTAC. Trump’s sins and Jack’s politics & purchases are apparently directly related to this ignition key settlement.

      • 0 avatar

        Politicization of TTAC is directly and largely rooted in Jack Baruth’s and Mark Baruth’s epic rants and trolling over the course of at least the last 12 months, wherein they literally had their own Hannity/Richard Spencer/frumpy-Mark Levin modeled open dialogue MAGA RahRah Rally chant going on in many “auto” scribblings on TTAC.

        They both FAP hard and long to Faux…errr FOX News while reclining on one of those MyPillows advertised on FOX (for the cranky geriatric crowd that loves Bill O’Reilly, Hannibal, Judge Jeanine and the Steve Douchebag and his 2 Friends in the AM).

        • 0 avatar

          There is a solid auto-related point in calling out the blatant and patently obvious hypocrisy of Jack, purveyor and promoter of the “I really try my hardest to buy goods produced in the U.S. of U.S.-sourced components” claim, given his recent purchase of his Hecho En Mexico ‘Murican Pickup, too

          – which isn’t just assembled in Mexico, but has a fairly large % of parts sourced from non-U.S. countries.

          If Jack walked his talk, he’d have bought a Tundra, which is not only assembled in the U.S., but has a higher domestic parts content than his *GM (Guadalajara MotorsTM) pickup.


          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            U.S. auto assembly plant locations

            GM:Delta Township MI, Lansing MI, Flint MI, Orion lakes MI, Hamtramck MI, Lordstown OH, Fort Wayne IN, Spring Hill TN, Wentzville MO, Bowling Green KY, Fairfax KN, Arlington TX

            Toyota: Princeton IN, Georgetown KY, Blue Springs MS, San Antonio TX

            To put it another way 5 out of every 6 vehicles GM sells in the U.S. are built in the U.S. For Toyota it’s about half

    • 0 avatar

      You’re right, and nothing.

  • avatar

    I don’t care for the article, but I did log on just to express my pleasure at the use of one of my favorite words “penultimate” in the title.

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