A lawsuit filed late Friday in U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi Texas demands that a federal judge order General Motors to tell 1.6 million drivers of cars included in a recent recall to stop driving the vehicles immediately, and to require GM to pay for rental cars used by the owners while the vehicles are being repaired.
READ the GM lawsuit: View Document
The lawsuit, the first to be filed since GM ordered the recall of the vehicles earlier this month, is on behalf of a Texas couple who owns a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, one of several GM models affected by the massive recall. The others include the G5 Pontiac, Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstace, and Saturn Sky. GM says the cars contain faulty ignition switches which unexpectedly turn off during operation, and have caused air bags not to deploy during crashes.
"Everyone who owns one of these recalled vehicles needs to park it now," Bob Hilliard, the lead attorney in the action, told 1200 WOAI news. "Driving a recalled GM vehicle is like carrying a stick of dynamite with a slow burning fuse. It will be sudden, violent, and deadly."
The lawsuit, which seeks class action status for the million plus owners of the recalled vehicles, claims 303 people have died in accidents directly related to the switch failure, which Hilliard claims GM has known about for ten years. GM says the faulty switch is responsible for 'at least twelve' deaths.
"In 2004, before the launch of the 2005 Cobalt, GM became aware of incidents wherein the vehicle engine would suddenly lose power, in the event the key moved out of the 'run' position," Hilliard wrote in the lawsuit. "An investigation was opened, and after consideration of lead time required, the investigation was closed and no action taken."
The lawsuit claims GM received reports of vehicle failures throughout 2005 and took little or no action.
"Given the vast number of instances of sudden engine power loss and non deployment of airbags related to the defective ignition switch, and GM's knowledge of many of the instances, GM should have aggressively developed a remedy years ago," the lawsuit states.
In addition to the free rental car and full repairs, the lawsuit also asks a judge to pay the owners for the loss of resale value of their cars due to the publicity about the ignition problem, claiming that when they bought their vehicles, the automaker 'implied that GM would provide vehicles that did not contain an unreasonably dangerous condition,' and even if the vehicles are fixed, GM has 'breached an implied warranty' and buyers should be reimbursed for their loss. The lawsuit also asks that the manufacturer's warranty on all of the vehicles be extended.
A spokeswoman for the law firm said no hearing date has been set.