Aubrey Wallace Williams with her two children ()
A lawsuit filed on behalf of a woman who died last year pins the blame on an ignition switch defect that was the subject of General Motors Co.’s recent recalls.
Aubrey Williams, 32, was killed in a Dec. 4 accident after visiting her child’s school, said Jere Beasley, founding shareholder at Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery, Ala., who filed the suit on Monday in Lauderdale County, Ala., Circuit Court.
She lost control of her 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt on an Alabama highway, crossed into the opposing lane and collided into an oncoming 18-wheeler, said Beasley, who represents Williams’ father, Steve Smith, the plaintiff. Beasley blamed Williams’ death on the ignition switch’s failure, which caused a complete loss of power in the vehicle.
“The ignition defect caused the systems to shut down, which include steering and brakes and the air bags, and she veered over into the path of the 18-wheeler,” Beasley said. “She died instantly.”
Since February, GM has recalled more than 1.6 million vehicles worldwide for defective ignition switches that might cause engines to stall and prevent air bags from deploying in crashes. The defects have been linked to at least a dozen deaths.
The 2006 Cobalt is one of the vehicles subject to the recall.
The suit, which asserts general negligence claims and products liability under Alabama law, also names Delphi Automotive PLC and two of its subsidiaries that made and sold parts to GM; Long-Lewis Ford of the Shoals Inc., the dealership in Muscle Shoals, Ala., that sold the used vehicle to Williams; and Champion Chevrolet Inc., which performed maintenance on the vehicle about one year before the accident.
GM spokesman Greg Martin declined to comment about specific lawsuits. “GM’s first focus is on ensuring the safety and peace of mind of our customers involved in the recall and fixing their vehicles,” he wrote in an emailed statement to The National Law Journal.
On Monday, the latest class action, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims GM’s recalls have failed to fix the problems.
“It is tremendously disappointing that General Motors, which was bailed out by U.S. consumers during the financial crisis, has been carrying on the most egregious and far-reaching cover-up in automotive history because it didn’t want to assume the costs of fixing cars it knew to be dangerously defective,” said plaintiffs lawyer Adam Levitt, a director of Wilmington, Del.’s Grant & Eisenhofer, in a prepared statement.
The class action claims that GM’s recall is insufficient because the entire key system should have been redesigned.
Levitt, who leads the firm’s consumer practice out of Chicago, has teamed up with several other attorneys, including Lance Cooper of The Cooper Firm in Marietta, Ga., whose discovery in a case he filed on behalf of a woman who died in 2010 due to an alleged ignition switch defect has been cited by attorneys to show GM knew about the problems long before the recalls. Cooper’s case settled last September.
On Friday, another class action was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and a federal securities class action was filed on behalf of shareholders who purchased GM stock from Nov. 17, 2010, to March 10, 2014.
Contact Amanda Bronstad at email@example.com.