GM seeks dismissal of Texas ignition switch lawsuit – Detroit Free Press
Lawyers for General Motors asked a Texas judge to dismiss one of the remaining lawsuits involving the deadly ignition-switch defect that led to a costly 2014 recall of 2.6 million small cars.
In a brief filed in a state court in Harris County, Texas, GM asked that the suit filed by Zachary, Lisa and Mark Stevens be dismissed and the court sanction the Stevens family for fabricating evidence. Zach Stevens, the son of Lisa and Mark, was driving the family’s 2007 Saturn Sky in November 2007 when, while driving at a high rate of speed, the car bounced off a guardrail, crossed the center line and crashed into a 1997 Nissan Frontier, killing the driver, Mariano Landaverde.
The Stevens’ contend the accident was caused by their car’s loss of power as the key slipped from the “on” to the “off” position.
GM acknowledged in its multiple recalls of vehicles, including the 2007 Sky, that the problem could be caused by the weight of extra keys or other objects attached to the vehicle’s key chain.
But GM lawyers says the multiple-key keychain the Stevens’ lawyer tried to introduce as evidence was not used by Zach Stevens when his car crashed into Landaverde’s truck.
“Plaintiffs’ scheme might have gone undetected except for one fatal mistake they made: putting the wrong key on the keychain that they recently assembled and miraculously ‘found’ shortly before trial,” the motion states.
It then describes that when a judge and lawyers for both sides inspected the Saturn Sky’s remains on Sunday they discovered that the key on the keychain was from a different vehicle.
It was unclear when the judge will rule on the motion. This is one of several “bellwether” cases involving ignition-switch suits brought by people who either rejected or chose not to pursue settlements through a special compensation fund that eventually awarded about $595 million to families of 124 people who died in accidents caused by the defective ignition switches and about 275 surviving victims who sustained significant injuries.
GM CEO Mary Barra, in a previously undisclosed video played in the Stevens case last week, testified that GM engineers “misdiagnosed (the ignition defect) as a customer satisfaction issue and not a safety issue.”
“A series of mistakes were made over a period of time that caused the ignition-switch defect,’’ Barra testified. “This had tragic consequences.’’
GM won the first two ignition cases that went to trial earlier this year. In one case a federal jury in New York blamed a New Orleans crash on a freak ice storm, rather than a faulty ignition switch.
Last January an Oklahoma man’s case fell apart after he was caught lying on the stand about his finances. The man, Robert Scheuer, testified that memory loss he claimed was caused by the accident caused him to misplace a check for $49,500 that he needed for a down payment on a house.
GM’s lawyers said they uncovered evidence that Scheuer, his wife and two children actually were kicked out of the house because a real estate agent found Scheuer had faked a $441,430.72 check stub from his federal government retirement account as “proof of funds” to close the sale.
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