The law firm that obtained a $1.6 billion civil settlement with Toyota over sudden-acceleration defects has filed a class action against General Motors Co. over its recall of 1.6 million vehicles for ignition switch defects.
Seattle’s Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, which filed the class action on Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, seeks to represent a nationwide class of consumers who purchased or leased the recalled vehicles. The suit was filed on behalf of a woman in Irvine, Calif., who owns a 2007 Saturn Ion Coupe.
Hagens Berman, which cited the federal Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act and consumer protection laws in Michigan and California, estimates that the statutory damages in the case could surpass $350 million. The suit, which also seeks punitive damages, claims that General Motors knew about the defects as early as 2001.
“G.M.’s inaction—sitting mute while people died—rises to the level of criminal in my book,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “While civil in nature, we believe it is a step toward holding G.M. accountable for its inaction.”
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