Product Liability

Approved GM ignition switch death claims climb to 67

GM recall Approved GM ignition switch death claims climb to 67The General Motors (GM) ignition switch compensation fund approved three new death claims and five new injury claims, fund administrators said Monday, raising the total number of deaths linked to the defective GM ignition switch to 67 and the personal injury toll to 113.

A total of 4,342 claims were submitted to the compensation fund by the January 31 deadline, 478 of which were wrongful death claims. To date, 1,492 ignition switch fund claims remain under review, including 133 death claims. Fund administrator Kenneth Feinstein has said each eligible death claim will receive at least $1 million.

Fund administrators have deemed 820 claims ineligible to date, 129 of which were death claims. Another 784 claims were submitted to the fund without the required documentation.

The parents of 29-year-old Brooke Melton, whose landmark case exposed the GM ignition switch cover-up, last week accepted a payment from the compensation fund, adding an undisclosed sum to a previous settlement of $5 million. The Meltons were eligible to file a claim to the fund, but chose instead to sue GM, alleging the carmaker had defrauded them in the original settlement.

GM knew its ignition switches were defective, but failed to recall them until the Meltons’ case, led by attorney Lance Cooper, exposed the problem. By then, the faulty ignition switches had been installed in several models for more than a decade. GM began recalling 2.6 million vehicles with the defective switches in February 2014.

GM put $400 million into its ignition switch compensation fund, but the company estimates it could cost $600 million to resolve all the claims. So far, GM has paid about $93 million to resolve death and injury claims through the compensation fund, according to a recent regulatory filing.

Camille Biros, the fund’s deputy administrator, said earlier this month that five eligible claimants have rejected offers from the fund. Claimants who accept an offer from the compensation fund give up their right to sue GM for damages.

Sources:

CNN
USA Today
Wall Street Journal
The Detroit News