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General Motors Settles with Prosecutors for Defective Products for $900 Million, Leaves Many Cold

Recently, the New York Times reported that the number of deaths linked to defective cars made by American car company General Motors (GM) has risen to 124. Last year, GM recalled 2.6 million older small cars worldwide such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion to replace faulty ignition switches. These faulty ignition switches shut off the engine and disable power-assisted steering, power brakes and the air bags. This has led to over a hundred deaths, and 275 more injuries, according to lawyers in charge of the GM victims’ fund. The company publicly acknowledged that some of its employees knew about the problem for more than a decade, but no cars were recalled until early last year.

Family members of victims have been wondering how federal prosecutors would hold the company accountable for an alleged, decade-long failure to disclose the defect. They were disappointed. In a settlement with prosecutors, the company took a plea deal in which GM is expected to pay a $900 million penalty (less than the $1.2 billion Toyota paid last year for a similar matter), and the Justice Department agreed to defer prosecution for three years. GM must also independently monitor its safety practices, and in return the company will have its record wiped clean. Prosecutors state that GM’s cooperation was the reason the settlement was reached after only 18 months, rather than after four years or more, as in the Toyota case.

What is Products Liability?

Products liability refers to the liability of any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of any defective product for damage or injuries caused by that product. This includes everything from the part manufacturer, wholesaler, to the retail store owner. In any jurisdiction in which a products liability claim is filed, one must first prove that the product was defective.

Under Tennessee law, a manufacturer of a product is not liable for injuries caused by the product unless it is found to be in a defective condition or “unreasonably dangerous” at the time it left the control of the manufacturer. The knowledge available to the manufacturer or seller at the time the product was placed on market is a determining factor in deciding whether a product (ie. ignition switch) is defective or “unreasonably dangerous,”.

Nashville Product Liability and Personal Injury Attorneys

The damages that result from a motor vehicle accident can be catastrophic, and we understand how confusing and complex car accident litigation can be – especially when there are defective products involved. As a consumer, you make careful decisions about what to buy for the safety and security of your family. Every year, millions of Americans are affected or injured by dangerous or defective products. Our firm is dedicated to protecting your rights and will pursue compensation against all responsible parties. Contact us at Calhoun Law, PLC today so that we can ensure that you and your loved ones are properly compensated for you injuries.

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