A United States appeals court shielded General Motors from punitive damages related to alleged misconduct concerning faulty ignitions in their vehicles. The alleged misconduct took place before the company’s 2009 bankruptcy. This limits the company’s liability for more than 100 deaths caused by its faulty ignitions. The court reasoned that the new company that emerged from GM’s bankruptcy couldn’t be held liable punitive damages based on actions taken by its corporate predecessor.
Punitive damages are used in order to punish a company for reckless and intentional wrongdoing. This includes acts such as selling products that are known to be defective. Punitive damages can sometimes result in large jury awards. Consumers in the GM cases are still suing for the economic damages they sustained as a result of the faulty ignitions. However, it appears as though GM may not be punished for its egregious conduct.
Blow to Consumers
The court’s ruling is a blow to consumers who have been injured as a result of the faulty ignitions that were recalled in 2014. As a result of the safety problem, there was a wave of lawsuits based on injuries caused by the ignition switches and the diminished value of the vehicles. The defective ignitions were found on 2.6 million recalled vehicles. The switches were prone to slipping out of the run feature and stopping the car even when it was driving. In addition, sometimes, the ignition switches disabled safety features, including airbags.
The company could still be liable for conduct that occurred after 2009. Lawsuits against GM allege that the company waited too long to recall the vehicles containing the faulty ignitions and that people were seriously injured as a result. At least 120 people were killed as the result of the faulty ignition switches. There was evidence that GM knew about the defective ignitions for a decade prior to instituting the recall.
Contact an Experienced Product Liability Attorney
If you’ve been injured by a defective product, you should have an experienced product liability attorney evaluate your case for free. Gregg Goldfarb has been helping the victims of dangerous products for over 20 years. Contact us online or call us at 305-374-7000 to schedule a free consultation.