Jury Again Sides With GM In Ignition Switch Lawsuit

A Texas jury last week again sided with General Motors in a lawsuit over the company's defective ignition switches.

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A Texas jury last week again sided with General Motors in a lawsuit over the company's defective ignition switches.

The lawsuit was filed by a Zachary Stevens and his parents; Stevens, then 19, was driving his 2007 Saturn Sky when it collided with a guardrail and careened into oncoming traffic some five years ago. Stevens suffered brain injury and the driver of another car was killed in the crash.

Stevens' attorneys argued that the vehicle's ignition switch cut off power to the car and led Stevens to lose control; the automaker, however, argued that he recklessly attempted to pass cars on the shoulder of a rain-slicked road.

The 12-person Houston jury sided with GM, the Detroit Free Press reported.

"What happened was simple and tragic: This was a high-speed side-impact crash on a wet road caused by an extremely reckless young man who tried to pass cars on the right shoulder and lost control," the automaker said.

The 2007 Sky was one of the models in a 2014 recall of 2.6 million GM vehicles. The ignition switches in those cars could inadvertently slide into the "off" position and disable critical safety features.

A compensation fund established by the automaker determined that the switches caused 124 deaths and 274 injuries.

One of many lawsuits over the problem also found that GM officials knew about the problem for years prior to the recall.

The Stevens case was one of six initial lawsuits picked by a New York federal court to serve as a bellwether for hundreds of additional civil cases. It was the third to go to trial, and last week’s verdict made GM three-for-three to date.

A 2014 crash near New Orleans was blamed on icy conditions rather than a faulty ignition, while the first case was halted after the plaintiffs were found to have lied under oath.

Another dozen cases, however, are scheduled to go to trial over the next 12 months, Bloomberg reported. The next case, which involves a 2011 crash in Virginia, will begin next month in New York federal court.

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