Arizona AG Sues GM for $3 Billion Tied to Recalls

DETROIT (Detroit Free Press/TNS) -

Arizona’s attorney general has sued General Motors, alleging that the automaker defrauded the state’s consumers of an estimated $3 billion by delaying a recall of cars with defective ignition switches.

The lawsuit suggests GM deliberately misled owners of the recalled vehicles.

GM issued a statement challenging the allegations.

“We have reviewed the complaint filed by the State of Arizona,” the company’s statement said. “It misrepresents the facts, the performance of our vehicles and our work to ensure the safety of our customers. We intend to vigorously defend ourselves.”

Arizona Attorney General Thomas Horne is taking a different course from his peers. Attorneys general in 48 states are pursuing a multistate investigation into GM for its handling of the ignition-switch defect.

The complaint attempts to measure the economic losses incurred by owners of recalled GM vehicles well beyond the 2.6 million included in the ignition-switch recall.

GM has recalled nearly 30 million vehicles this year through 76 separate campaigns. According to the Arizona complaint, about 300,000 of those are registered in the state.

“It manufactured and sold millions of vehicles that were not safe, including hundreds of thousands in Arizona, and it failed to remedy serious defects in millions of older G.M.-branded vehicles,” the complaint said. As examples, the Arizona attorney general calculated that the 2010 and 2011 models of the Chevrolet Camaro had lost $2,000 in value, and the 2009 Pontiac Solstice had lost $2,900.

GM is defending itself against dozens of other lawsuits alleging lost economic value. The company asserts that the reorganization plan that enabled it to exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 granted it immunity from product-liability lawsuits involving products made before the bankruptcy. The company is not using that immunity to fight lawsuits involving deaths or injuries.