GM Settles Lawsuits in Ignition-Switch Scandal, But Many Cases Remain

(Detroit Free Press/TNS) -

General Motors will pay $120 million to settle claims from dozens of states in its long-running ignition-switch-defect scandal. The settlement resolves one of the legal battles involving a case that left at least 124 people dead and 275 injured in small cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion that were made by the old GM.

A federal judge in New York threw out two cases considered bellwethers of what claims will be allowed against General Motors in the ignition-switch cases.

Reuters reported that plaintiffs contended that their GM ignition switches might have rotated from “run” at the moment of impact to “accessory” or “off,” causing the accidents or making them worse, and then back to “run” before the airbags deployed.

But U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, who oversees multidistrict litigation over the switches, including 213 cases in which airbags deployed, disallowed expert testimony about “double switch rotation,” calling it unreliable.

GM did not disclose the defect in which the ignition switch could rotate to the off position, causing cars to stall and airbags to not deploy. The company paid an estimated $2.5 billion in penalties and settlements in the scandal, including $900 million to settle a U.S. Justice Department criminal case and $120 million in October to settle claims from states.

The settlements did not resolve the litigation being handled by Furman.