General Motors has been hit with nearly 80 lawsuits and a $35 million fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The company’s woes continue as U.S. regulators reveal information about their probe into the company’s handling of the recall involving faulty ignition switches.
The lawsuits from consumers are demanding as much as $10 billion due to the depreciation of vehicle value stemming from the faulty ignition switch. GM has also been sued in approximately 20 more class-action lawsuits linked to the recalled vehicles. Although General Motors is the main defendant, some lawsuits also cite Delphi Corp., the company that manufactured the ignition switches, as a defendant.
Following the fine from the NHTSA, regulators revealed that the company discouraged the use of certain words in written communications that discussed problems with their vehicles. The “judgment words” were presented during the company’s 2008 Q1 Interior Technical Learning Symposium.
GM admits that they took these steps, but says they are now encouraging employees to use factual statements. Additionally, as part of their settlement with the NHTSA, General Motors will meet with officials to review their compliance with safety issues for the next three years.
Regulators have also publicized that the auto manufacturer had information in 2009 that should have linked the defective ignition switch to airbags that failed to deploy during a car accident. However, it has been noted that the company may have known about issues with the switch as far back as 2005.
Since the company’s initial recall of more than 2 million vehicles in February, General Motors has recalled another 11.8 million vehicles for a variety of safety issues. The company is evaluating any potential safety problems which means many more vehicles could be recalled through the remainder of the year.
Lawsuits filed will likely not move forward until a panel of judges decides whether or not GM may be held liable for accident injuries and deaths that occurred before they filed for bankruptcy in 2009. The decision is expected to be handed down later this month when the judges will also decide if the lawsuits should be merged into one and what federal court will be fit to handle them.
Visit our GM recall timeline to stay up-to-date on General Motors’ recall news.