Ignition switch actions have been brought in at least 38 federal district courts, including Connecticut, California, New York and Texas.
Faced with another in a string of lawsuits claiming an ignition switch in one of its cars is dangerous and defective, General Motors is moving to transfer the case to the multidistrict litigation docket in the Southern District of New York.
The latest claim was filed last month in Bridgeport Superior Court by Connecticut resident Jermaine Gage. Gage asserts he was severely injured when his 2012 Chevrolet Camaro lost engine power and shut down. Gage, the lawsuit says, swerved off the road and struck a tree. He reported injuries to his head, neck, right eye and back. The lawsuit asserts that a driver’s knee making contact with the ignition key could cause the ignition switch to move out of the “run” position, which in turn could cause the vehicle to shut down.
The Gage lawsuit, which was moved to U.S. District Court in Connecticut Monday, is one of more than 315 similar actions against GM that have been filed in or removed to federal court since February 2014. All of the complaints involve defective ignition switches and/or inadvertent key rotations. Many different GM models are involved in the lawsuits.
In court filings, GM maintains the Gage lawsuit “is appropriate for MDL transfer and consolidation with other ignition switch actions pending in the Southern District of New York.” A decision on moving the lawsuit from Connecticut to the Southern District of New York is pending.
GM announced a national recall in June 2014 of many of its vehicles, including the Camaro, relating to the ignition key. Gage’s accident occurred in October 2014, four months after the recall. The lawsuit states that, “despite this knowledge [of faulty ignition], and knowledge of numerous losses of engine power caused by the defective ignition switch in which numerous people were injured, GM did not adequately warn Jermaine [Gage] of these defects.” The lawsuit does not elaborate on how the automaker should have notified Gage about the recall.
In his suit, Gage cites four counts: strict liability as tort; punitive damages; breach of express warranty; and breach of implied warrant. The lawsuit seeks compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages as well as attorney fees.
GM has won some cases and lost others during the past several years. GM has paid out more than $2 billion in fines, penalties and settlements related to its faulty ignition switches. In September 2015, GM agreed to pay $900 million to resolve criminal charges for concealing a defective ignition switch linked to at least 124 deaths.
Associate Brian Kluberdanz with Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky in Stamford represents Gage. Kluberdanz could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
GM is represented by partners Robert Simpson and Christopher Drury, both with Shipman & Goodwin in Hartford. Simpson and Drury could not be reached for comment Tuesday.