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GM Ignition Switch Recalls — Did the Company Conceal Known Dangers?

In March of 2010, Atlanta pediatric nurse Brooke Melton was driving to her boyfriend’s home to celebrate her 29th birthday when she was killed in a tragic automobile accident. The vehicle’s black box indicated that the ignition switch on her 2005 Chevy Cobalt suddenly turned off, causing her to lose control and collide with another car.

Ms. Brooke’s family enlisted Florida engineer Mark Hood to investigate the cause of the ignition switch failure. During the ensuing investigation, Mr. Hood made a shocking discovery. The engineer purchased an ignition mechanism from a local General Motors dealership to test. The identification number for the new part matched the one connected to the ignition switch in Ms. Brooke’s automobile, but the parts were clearly different. He rounded up 18 older switches from junkyards and, comparing them to the more recently produced parts, he found that the design changed sometime in 2006 or 2007.

Although it is common for automobile manufacturers to update designs, a new identification number is typically assigned to the altered part. The fact that the two different designs contained identical identification numbers indicated that the company tried to conceal the changes. These suspicions were confirmed by a document in which a G.M. engineer signed off on proposed changes to the part suggested by its manufacturer, Delphi.

G.M. has since recalled 2.6 million automobiles because of the ignition switch defect. G.M. CEO Mary Barra issued a statement regarding the extensive recall, saying, “We are taking no chances with safety.”

Sadly, G.M. did take chances with safety by producing defective cars and failing to recall the dangerous parts as soon as the problem was discovered. Ultimately, the defect cost at least 13 lives and resulted in many more injuries.

Currently, G.M. has recalled the following vehicles:

  • 2008-2010 Chevrolet Cobalts
  • 2008-2011 Chevrolet HHRs
  • 2008-2010 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2008-2010 Pontiac G5
  • 2008-2010 Saturn Sky

If you were involved in an automobile accident in Fort Lauderdale involving any of these G.M. vehicles, consult a personal injury lawyer who can investigate whether a defective auto part was to blame.

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