The parents of Brooke Melton have settled their second auto products liability case with General Motors. Brooke, 29, died on her birthday in 2010 when her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt skid on a wet road and was struck by another car.
Experts hired by the Meltons’ legal team said that the ignition of the Cobalt had slipped from “run” into “accessory” mode just before the collision, causing the engine, power steering, airbags, and power brakes to become disabled. They also identified that the ignition switch used in the Cobalt was not the same as the one found in cars of the same model that were built in the years following. The products defects case was settled for $5 million.
However, after GM disclosed that a number of its vehicles were linked to an ignition switch defect last year—the company eventually recalling some 2.6 million vehicles—the Meltons sued the automaker again, claiming that the company committed fraud by settling the first case while continuing to knowingly sell faulty ignition switches. The manufacturer’s own engineers have said that excessive weight or jarring on an ignition key may cause the switch to move from “run” to “accessory” mode, shutting off the power.
Some 4,180 claims were submitted to GM’s ignition switch compensation fund. The defective switches have been linked to 51 deaths and 77 serious injuries. In Massachusetts, please contact our Boston auto defects law firm if you suspect that your injuries or a loved one’s death was because of a defective auto part.
Auto defects can prove catastrophic not just for those injured. One driver, Koua Fong Lee, served time in prison for the car crash deaths of three people (two others were seriously injured). The collision happened when the Toyota he was driving slammed into another vehicle at a fast speed. Lee said that he tried to brake but his car wouldn’t let him.
He was sentenced for vehicular homicide. After reports of many other Toyota cars purportedly also impacted with sudden acceleration issues, causing other fatal auto accidents, Lee, the victims, and their families sued Toyota for auto products liability.
The automaker maintains that the 1996 Camry Lee had been driving was not defective and he had been negligent, mistaking the gas pedal as the brake pedal. A jury ruled that while Toyota was 60% responsible Lee was also 40% at fault. They awarded the plaintiffs, including Lee, $11.4 million.
Altman & Altman, LLP represents car crash victims (and their families) injured because of defective or malfunctioning ignition switches, brakes, seatbelts, airbags, engines, and other faulty auto parts. We also handle auto products liability cases involving 15-passenger vans, SUV rollovers, and tire blowouts. You may have reason for pursuing a claim from a negligent driver and/or the automaker, seller, or distributor.
Toyota Ordered to Pay $11.4M in Fatal Camry Crash, CNN, February 4, 2015
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