Judge rules punitive damages against GM are possible

Many Georgia motorists were directly impacted by the GM ignition switch problems. The nationwide product recall that followed affected a substantial proportion of the GM owners in the state.

A federal bankruptcy judge has ruled that General Motors, in addition to being liable for damages that resulted from the defective ignition systems in accidents that occurred after the company emerged from its 2009 bankruptcy, may also be sued for punitive damages regardless of when the accident took place. This could result in millions of dollars worth of required payments from the company.

General Motors filed for bankruptcy in 2009, reorganizing the company and attempting to shield it from the liabilities attached to the older version of GM. However, the judge ruled that both knowledge and employees transferred from the old GM to the new GM, so it is possible to demonstrate that the new GM had knowledge of the defects and was greatly irresponsible in failing to repair and replace them. The contention of the plaintiffs is that GM knew about the defects in the starting system as early as 2004 but failed to order a recall until February 2014, and the lawsuits against the corporation include a great number of personal injury and wrongful death cases.

People who have been injured as a result of a dangerous product may want to discuss their situation with a personal injury attorney. Legal counsel can determine in many instances whether the manufacturer was aware of the defect but failed to warn the consumer or take other corrective action in a timely fashion.

Source: NBC News, "Plaintiffs in GM Ignition Switch Cases Can Seek Punitive Damages: Judge", Associated Press, Nov. 9, 2015

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