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San Diego Alert, First wrongful death suit in massive GM recall

The first wrongful death claim against General Motors (GM) has been filed in the wake of revelations that GM was aware of an automotive defect for over a decade, but failed to take appropriate corrective measures. The defect involves the ignition switch in the Saturn Ion and the Chevy Cobalt. If the car's keys have a heavy keychain on them while the keys are in the ignition, the extra weight can cause the ignition switch to suddenly turn off. This causes the car's steering, braking, and airbags to deactivate, leaving the occupants in the vehicle in peril. GM reported that the defect has been linked to twelve deaths. Independent reports suggest the figure is more than three hundred deaths.

The first wrongful death lawsuit arising from the defective cars was filed in Minnesota on March 24, 2014. Megan Phillips, the driver of a 2006 Chevy Cobalt, lost control of her vehicle after the defect was triggered, causing her to careen off of the road and crash into a telephone box and two trees. The crash killed her two passengers, Amy Rademaker and Natasha Weigel, and caused Ms. Phillips to sustain severe brain and bodily injuries.

GM's failure to adequately and appropriately address the defect harkens back to the poor, and morally bankrupt, decisions made by many other automobile companies. Ford misled the public and failed to adequately address the defective fuel system in their Pinto vehicle resulting in people being incinerated in the vehicle. Suzuki misled the public and failed to address the defective design of their Samurai vehicle resulting in numerous roll-over accidents and catastrophic injuries. Toyota misled the public and failed to address the sudden acceleration defect in their automobile resulting in almost 400 wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits.

Automobile manufacturers must be held accountable for defective products put in the stream of commerce. They must have adequate design and manufacturing protocols to prevent defects. When they do produce a defective product they are liable for the injuries and damages the defective product has caused. What is particularly reprehensible is when those manufacturers become aware of the defect and elect to do nothing to address the issue. When a corporation crosses that line they become liable for punitive damages.

If you or a family member have been involved in an accident involving a GM vehicle, it is important to consult an attorney skilled in recognizing vehicle design and manufacturing defects. At the Law Offices of David P. Beeson & Associates, our attorneys have that experience. Our experience in vehicle design and manufacture defects dates back to the Suzuki Samurai rollover litigation. Visit our website at or call us at 619-233-6078. We can help.

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