DETROIT — A Texas lawyer has filed a lawsuit against General Motors on behalf of 658 people who were injured or killed in crashes allegedly caused by faulty ignition switches.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan names 29 people who were killed in crashes and 629 who were hurt. All the crashes occurred after GM emerged from bankruptcy protection in July 2009. That makes them exempt from GM's efforts to shield itself from claims due to crashes that occurred before the bankruptcy, attorney Robert Hilliard said in a statement.
Hilliard also said he will ask judges for permission to file 248 more cases from before the bankruptcy, including 21 deaths.
"It's certainly not a legal given that GM will be successful in its attempts to use this 'get-out-of-jail-free' bankruptcy card," said Hilliard of Corpus Christi.
The lawsuit alleges that GM knew about the defective switches that can cause engines to stall since as early as 2001, yet it didn't recall any cars until this year. The switches can cut off the engine, knocking out power steering and brakes, and disabling the airbags, which wouldn't protect people in a crash. The lawsuit seeks in excess of $75,000 in damages for each plaintiff.
GM spokesman Jim Cain wouldn't comment on Hilliard's lawsuit, but said the company wants to do the right thing for people harmed by ignition switch issues with the Chevrolet Cobalt and other recalled small cars.