Discovery in a wrongful death case filed against General Motors has established that General Motors knew in 2004 that a defect in the ignition switch of Chevrolet Cobalts could cause the engine to shut off while the auto was being driven. The loss of power would cause a resultant loss of power steering, power brakes, airbags and the anti-lock function of the brake system.
The lawsuit arose out of the death of a 29 year old pediatric nurse who died in her 2005 Chevy Cobalt. The data from the black box indicated that the ignition defect caused the vehicle to stall causing a fatal crash. When General Motors learned of the defect they attempted an inadequate repair campaign but did not recall the switch until recently after at least six people died due to ignition switch failures.
The actual subjective awareness by GM of the severity of the ignition switch defect and their failure to recall the defective switches resulting in the death of numerous motorists exposes GM to the potential for punitive damages.
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