New lawsuit against GM goes far beyond switches

General Motors knew that its ignition switches in 1.62 million now-recalled cars were faulty and it knew the problem was made worse by the position of the switch where it is easily bumped. These were the assertions in a new group of lawsuits. GM’s replacement of the switches is an “insufficient” remedy and the cars need an additional fix to shield the key or fob from being bumped by the driver, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

“Since at least 2005, GM has known that simply replacing the ignition switches on the defective vehicles is not a solution for the potential for the key to inadvertently turn from the ‘run” to the “accessory/off” position in these vehicles,” states the lawsuit.

“GM, in our view, is continuing to mislead customers” by standing by faulty ignition switches as the only cause the problem, said Adam Levitt, a director of one of the participating law firms, Grant & Eisenhofer, in a statement.

The new information could add to the cost of the recall. Vehicles recalled for the switch issue include the 2005 to 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2006 to 2007 HHR, 2006 to 2007 Pontiac Solstice and 2007 G5 and the 2003 to 2007 Saturn Ion and 2007 Sky. The suit alleges there are additional model years that should be part of a recall to deal with the bumping issue. The law firms say they have 13 plaintiffs in California and six other states who bought or leased cars covered under GM’s recall. Lawyers say they will seek status for the suit as a class action on behalf of all the owners.

Beyond the switch shield, the suit alleges that GM knew as early as 2001 that its key ignition system could shut off the engine without warning, but took no steps to fix it and sold the owners the cars anyway. It also seeks compensation for the owners for what it says is a loss in value for their cars because of the recall.

Faulty ignition switches in the recalled GM vehicles are linked to 12 deaths and 31 crashes.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers