General Motors to pay ME $1.1 million in lawsuit settlement

Frederick Owens
October 20, 2017

Idaho will receive just over $1.2 million as its share of a multistate, $120 million settlement with General Motors over allegations it concealed ignition safety problems in its vehicles, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced today. The settlement concludes the state investigations.

The states said GM knew as early as 2004 that the ignition switch posed a safety defect because it could cause airbag non-deployment, but company officials decided it was not a safety concern and delayed making recalls.

GM said in addition to the state payouts, it pledged to continue to improve its vehicle safety efforts. The company ended up recalling more than 30 million vehicles worldwide. The ignition switch defect, which allowed the key to inadvertently move to the "off" position and disable air bags, ultimately was tied to 124 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

The switches could slip from "Run" to "Accessory" of "Off" while the vehicle was in motion, leaving drivers with no power steering, no power brakes and possibly no airbags in case of a crash. If a collision occurs while the ignition switch is in the "Accessory" or "Off" position, the vehicle's safety airbags may also fail to deploy, increasing the risk of serious injury or death in certain types of crashes in which the airbag was otherwise created to deploy.

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CT and its municipal co-plaintiffs alleged that certain GM employees knew as early as 2004 that the ignition switch posed a safety defect because it could cause airbag non-deployment. The states alleged that these actions were unfair and deceptive in violation of state consumer protection laws.

"This settlement should send a strong signal to automobile manufacturers and businesses of all kinds that my office will not tolerate slow responses to safety hazards in consumer products, especially when a delay presents an unacceptable risk to the public", said Attorney General Herring.

The settlement prohibits GM from claiming a motor vehicle is safe unless it complies with the applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards.

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