Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Business

GM in preliminary talks to settle hundreds of claims tied to faulty ignition switches

RECOMMENDED READING


General Motors has begun preliminary talks to settle more than 300 claims involving wrongful death or personal injury from accidents tied to the defective ignition switch that has led the company to recall more than 2.6 million small cars, a lawyer for the plaintiffs and a company spokesman confirmed Friday.

The claims were brought by one lawyer, Robert C. Hilliard of Corpus Christi, Texas, and their number suggests a potential universe of victims far greater than the 13 deaths and 32 accidents that GM has linked to the defect. Hilliard's clients account for 53 claims of wrongful death and 273 personal injury claims involving the recalled vehicles, he said.

Hilliard met Friday morning in Washington for nearly four hours with Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer GM hired last month to explore a compensation fund for victims of accidents tied to the faulty switch, which can shut off power while cars are in motion, disabling airbags and impeding steering and brake systems. Feinberg has overseen similar funds in numerous catastrophes, including the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Boston Marathon bombings, and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Neither side would discuss the terms being discussed.

The session was the clearest indication yet that GM plans to compensate accident victims and their families, even though it is moving aggressively to dismiss other types of lawsuits, including dozens of class-action cases seeking compensation for diminished value of the recalled vehicles.

"We've taken responsibility for our actions and we will continue to do so," said Greg Martin, a company spokesman. "We've acknowledged that we have civic and legal obligations."

GM's July 10, 2009, bankruptcy reorganization insulated the company from legal claims stemming from accidents that occurred before that date, but Martin confirmed that the company would not make that distinction with the personal injury and death claims that Feinberg reviews.

The meeting came as another team of GM lawyers was in bankruptcy court in New York seeking to use that protection to dismiss the class-action lawsuits brought against the company seeking compensation for economic losses. The judge, Robert Gerber, did not rule on the company's motion to enforce that provision of the bankruptcy agreement.

GM is the subject of multiple investigations — by the Justice Department, Congress, federal highway safety regulators and the Securities and Exchange Commission — over its handling of the defective switch, a problem that the company acknowledges it knew about more than a decade before the recall.

Comments
A new threat this shopping season: toys that can spy on kids

A new threat this shopping season: toys that can spy on kids

ST. PETERSBURG — Not all sinister toys are as obvious as a Chucky doll. Many present more subtle threats — choking hazards, high lead content, privacy concerns. And as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks off, consumer advocates are urging s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

It has been years since Detroit, birthplace of the American auto industry, was a steady producer of the manufacturing jobs that defined it as the Motor City. But its comeback is entering a new phase.The latest milestone came this week, with the annou...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay

Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay

Associated PressWASHINGTON — Decades after they were banned from the airwaves, Big Tobacco companies return to prime-time television this weekend — but not by choice. Under court order, the industry for the first time will be forced to advertise the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Ybor ’s first public school, long gone, still has a story to tell about district’s history

Ybor ’s first public school, long gone, still has a story to tell about district’s history

TAMPAIt’s been more than a century since Ybor City’s first public school was demolished on the plot of land now identified as 1311 E Eighth Ave.For the past 22 years, the popular concert venue New World Brewery took up the space and one next door. No...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

ST. PETERSBURG — World and national tragedies are changing the city’s approach to security for special events at North Straub Park.With the approach of the holidays, concrete barricades have been erected at a section of the park’s perimeter, where Fo...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Copa Airlines to fly daily nonstop from Tampa to Panama next summer

Copa Airlines to fly daily nonstop from Tampa to Panama next summer

TAMPA — Panama’s Copa Airlines, which four years ago became the first airline to offer service between Panama and Tampa Bay, said it is increasing its nonstop service between Tampa International Airport and Panama City to daily flights starting in Ju...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Despite Hurricane Irma, Florida hit another record high number in tourists visiting the state in the first nine months of this year, according to figures released this week.Visit Florida, the state’s tourism bureau, said 88.2 million visitors came to...
Updated: 11 hours ago
FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday followed through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally, setting up a showdown ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

TAMPA — You can collect $110,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings, but for now you’ll have to make two stops.The David A. Straz Foundation announced Monday it would contribute $10,000 to a reward f...
Published: 11/21/17
Hurricane Irma hurt some Tampa Bay home sales even in October

Hurricane Irma hurt some Tampa Bay home sales even in October

Pinellas County home sales took another hurricane-related hit in October as the rest of the Tampa Bay area bounced back from Hurricane Irma.But while prices in all four counties rose once again, the rate of increase continues to slow. Hillsborough’s...
Updated: 10 hours ago