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Supreme court rebuffs GM’s bid to limit ignition-switch lawsuits

Chrysler Airbag Recall Lawsuits Latest News

Supreme court rebuffs GM’s bid to limit ignition-switch lawsuits

But the automaker is not yet close to putting the matter behind it and may now face years of additional litigation as a result of the latest legal turn in the case.

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court declined to review a lower-court ruling that the company was liable for claims for deaths or injuries arising before it filed for bankruptcy in 2009. The compensation fund that G.M. set up made payments to more than 100 such claimants, but a bankruptcy filing typically wipes out past liability, and G.M. had argued that point in court.

Last year, however, a federal appeals court said prebankruptcy claims could proceed. G.M. then asked the Supreme Court to review that ruling.

The Supreme Court’s rebuff means that several hundred remaining unsolved wrongful death and personal injury claims against G.M. could be sent to state courts for resolution or even trials.

“There are a lot of cases out there that either are going to have to be settled by G.M. or litigated, now that the Supreme Court is not getting involved,” said Robert C. Hilliard, a lawyer who is handling 243 claims against G.M. Among them are cases involving 27 deaths, Mr. Hilliard said.

He estimated that 1,000 or more outstanding cases remain.

The ignition switch at the heart of the matter was used mainly in the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion small cars that G.M. started producing in 2002 and 2003. The switch had a tendency to turn off by itself, leaving the car without power and disabling its airbags.

G.M. engineers knew of the switch’s problems for years before the company issued limited recalls of affected models, and the trouble remained obscured as G.M. went through a federally financed bankruptcy in 2009. In 2014, as links between the switch and an increasing number of fatal crashes became clear, the company was forced to acknowledge that it had failed to respond quickly, and it recalled 2.6 million vehicles.

Eventually, G.M. paid $900 million to settle a federal criminal investigation, and set aside $594.5 million for a fund to compensate victims of switch-related crashes. That fund was managed by the compensation expert Kenneth R. Feinberg.

The ignition-switch troubles damaged G.M.’s reputation, led some automakers to move more quickly to issue recalls, and prompted federal safety regulators to push harder for fast action when safety issues are suspected. In 2015, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was fined $70 million for failing to execute 23 recalls involving 11 million vehicles.

In a statement on Monday, G.M. reiterated that allowing prebankruptcy claims to move forward “doesn’t change the landscape” regarding GM ignition-switch lawsuits. “The plaintiffs must still establish their right to assert successor liability claims,” the company said. “From there, they still have to prove those claims have merit.”

How much G.M. might be liable for is hard to calculate. In injury and death cases, plaintiffs have to show that a defective switch caused the accident in which a victim was injured or killed. Some cases have been dismissed at trial because crashes were found to be related to other causes, such as impaired driving, or other contributing factors.

Dodge/Jeep/Chrysler Airbag Lawsuit

At issue is a potentially flawed computer, called an “occupant restraint control module,” that is supposed to work in tandem with a wire harness that detects frontal impacts. If they fail to work as designed, the airbags might not deploy, and the seatbelt pretensioners, which tighten the seat belts in event of a crash, might not work, Fiat Chrysler says.

Affected Vehicles

The vehicles involved in the recall include the following:

  • 2010 Chrysler Sebring midsize car
  • 2011 to 2014 Chrysler 200 midsize cars
  • 2010 to 2012 Dodge Caliber compacts
  • Dodge Avenger midsize
  • Jeep Patriot and Compass vehicles

Actual recall repairs aren’t ready to proceed. “We’re finalizing the remedy and customers will be advised when they may schedule service,” Fiat Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne says. He said he couldn’t offer any more details on the crash that resulted in the three deaths.

Fiat Chrysler says the occupant restraint controllers and wiring harness cited in the recall are no longer used in its new vehicles.

Other defects associated with Jeep/Chrysler Vehicles

  • Airbags will not deploy after frontal collision
  • Sudden inability to steer your car while driving
  • Engine can suddenly shutoff while driving
  • Power brakes may suddenly stop working while driving

Pursuing Compensation for Injuries/Death Resulting from Jeep/Chrysler Defects

The long-term effects of an auto accident are not always immediately clear. If you or a loved one was in an accident in one of the affected vehicles, contact the knowledgeable defective product and personal injury attorneys at the Monroe Law Group today for legal help. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries or losses, which you can pursue by filing a product liability lawsuit against Chrysler.

Alert: Due to statute of limitations, the time you have to pursue an injury or defective product claim is limited. Call us right away at 866-308-1092, email us at intake@monroelawgroup.com, or complete the form on this page now.

Chrysler recalling 1.9 million cars and SUVs due to airbag and seat belt defect linked deaths

“The company is aware of three fatalities and five injuries that may potentially be related to this condition,” it released in a statement.

According to the automaker, it no longer uses the faulty equipment. The faulty seatbelts and airbags were used in some Chrysler and Jeep models manufactured from 2010 to 2014.

The recalled models are:

  • 2010 Chrysler Sebring
  • 2011-2014 Chrysler 200
  • 2010-2012 Dodge Caliber
  • 2010-2014 Dodge Avenger
  • 2010-2014 Jeep Patriot SUV
  • 2010-2014 Jeep Compass SUV

Most of the vehicles, approximately 1.4 million, were sold in the United States. The remainder were sold in Canada (143,000), Mexico (82,000) and the rest of the world (284,000).

This is not the first large scale recall announced by Fiat Chrysler this year

In April, the company also recalled 1.1 million cars and SUVs worldwide because of a gear selector problem that killed actor Anton Yelchin of Star Trek fame. The problem was a confusing gear selector that could lead some drivers to believe that their vehicle was in Park when it was not.