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From Products Liability Law Daily, July 23, 2015

Pontiac owner claims her car was unreasonably excluded from ignition switch fund

By John W. Scanlan, J.D.

The owner of a 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix has filed suit individually against General Motors LLC (GM) for an alleged defect in its ignition switch, asserting that her vehicle unreasonably had been excluded from eligibility for compensation from GM’s ignition switch settlement fund (Long v. General Motors LLC, July 21, 2015).

Background. On October 6, 2014, Sheila Long was driving in her 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix when her car was struck on the passenger side by another vehicle. The Pontiac’s passenger airbags did not deploy in the accident, and she sustained “severe injuries” to her back, hips, shoulders, and legs, and continues to experience “excruciating” back pain resulting in additional doctor visits. She believes that the airbags’ failure to deploy was the result of a design defect in the car’s ignition switch, in which it can inadvertently and unexpectedly move out of the run position.

The owner asserts that she was required to file suit individually because her vehicle had been unreasonably excluded from compensation from GM’s Ignition Compensation Claims Resolution Facility, even though the alleged defect in her vehicle was identical to those in vehicles that were eligible for compensation and GM had instituted a repair protocol requiring that 2006 Grand Prix cars receive the same repairs. She argues that GM refuses to acknowledge that its ignition switches were still defective even after they were redesigned in 2006 because of their inadequate torque performance, their low placement on the steering wheel, and the disabling of the airbag system when the ignition is in the “accessory” or “off” position. According to the complaint, the “arbitrary” exclusion of her car and other later model year vehicles was an attempt to contain GM’s liability.

Specific allegations. The Pontiac owner brought claims against GM for negligence, strict liability, fraudulent concealment, and product liability.

Relief sought. The complaint asks for compensation for past and future medical expenses, past and future pain and suffering, past and future loss and impairment of earnings, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of function. She also seeks punitive damages for willful and wanton conduct, gross negligence, and fraudulent concealment of the defect. Additionally, she asks for pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees and costs. Finally, she seeks leave to amend her complaint to conform to the evidence produced at trial.

The case is No. 14-MD-2543 (IMF).

Attorneys: Cassandra P. Miller (Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin LLC) for Ruby Woodward. Amy M. Carter (Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett) for Sheila Long. Andrew Baker Bloomer (Kirkland & Ellis LLP), Anne M. Talcott (Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, PC), Arthur Jay Steinberg (King & Spalding LLP), and Benjamin Houston Joyce (Hood Law Firm) for General Motors LLC, General Motors Co. and General Motors Holding, LLC. Michael T. Navigato (Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, LLP) for Don McCue Chevrolet, Inc. Melissa M. Merlin (Husch Blackwell Sanders, LLP) for Continental Automotive Systems US, Inc.

Companies: General Motors LLC; Don McCue Chevrolet, Inc.; General Motors Co.; General Motors Holding, LLC; Continental Automotive Systems US, Inc.

Companies: General Motors LLC

MainStory: TopStory ComplaintNewsStory MotorVehiclesNews MotorEquipmentNews DesignManufacturingNews WarningsNews DamagesNews NewYorkNews

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