A New York City jury found Wednesday that a flawed General Motors ignition switch was not to blame in a 2014 accident on an icy New Orleans bridge, handing the carmaker its second victory in a row in trials meant to help lawyers settle scores of similar claims.
The jury in Manhattan federal court returned its verdict after less than a day of deliberations. It came in a trial stemming from a Louisiana fender bender. A man and woman claimed injuries after the accident.
The jury found that the 2007 Saturn Sky involved in the accident was unreasonably dangerous because it contained the faulty ignition switch. But it also found that the switch was not to blame for the accident or the injuries to the car’s occupants.
“The jurors studied the merits of the case and saw the truth: this was a very minor accident that had absolutely nothing to do with the car’s ignition switch,” GM said in a statement immediately after the verdict. “The evidence was overwhelming that this accident — like more than 30 others that occurred in the same area that night — was caused by the driver losing control on an icy bridge during a state-wide winter weather emergency.”
Six trials were scheduled this year to help resolve claims stemming from an ignition switch controversy that has plagued GM since 2002. The company has issued recalls affecting over 30 million vehicles since early 2014.
The ignition switch can slip out of the on position, making it difficult to steer or stop as the car stalls. GM says it has fixed the problem.
In September, GM announced it had settled 1,385 death and injury cases for $275 million and a class-action shareholders’ lawsuit for $300 million.
The company paid nearly $600 million to settle 399 claims made to a fund it established. Those claims covered 124 deaths and 275 injuries. GM’s fund rejected more than 90 percent of the 4,343 claims it received, according to figures the company released in December.
An earlier trial stemming from another accident ended abruptly in January after the judge raised questions about the plaintiff’s truthfulness.