Jan 02, 2016 05:02 AM EST
General Motors is going to trial in January after a U.S. judge on Wednesday rejected automakers' bid to dismiss the so called "bellwether" case over company's defective ignition switches. The trial will be on January 11.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in New York said that plaintiff Robert Scheuer have showed enough evidence to justify letting a jury decide whether an alleged ignition switch defect in his 2003 Saturn Ion caused or enhanced his injuries from a 2014 crash.
CBC says that, Furman also rejected the automaker's argument according to which Scheuer's claims are arising solely from the Detroit-based automaker's conduct following its 2009 bankruptcy failed as a matter of law. The claims also included the fact that GM's alleged failure to properly warn Scheuer about the defect, and were the only claims that could expose GM to punitive damages.
Scheuer was forced off an Oklahoma highway on May 28, 2014, when he was travelling with a GM vehicle causing him to crash head-on into two trees. After that he sued the company. His Ion's front air bags didn't deploy, due to defective ignition switch.
"We are fully prepared to go to trial, and introduce evidence showing that the ignition switch issue did not cause the injuries in this accident, or cause the airbags not to deploy," a GM spokesman James Cain said in a phone interview.
The problem with Ions, Chevrolet Cobalts and other GM vehicles is that an ignition switch defect could cause engines to stall and prevent air bags from deploying in crashes. According to Motortrend, some older cars like Ion recalled because they can slip out of the "run" position while in motion. In some cars, car bags didn't deploy in a crash, or sometimes engines may stall. GM started bringing back 2.6 million cars last year to fix the problems, although the company admits that the company knew about the defect over a decade earlier. A victim's compensation program in the leadership of attorney Kenneth Feinberg founded 124 deaths related to the ignition switches.
Yahoo News reports that, cases like Scheuer is considered to be a bellwether in the ignition because the outcome could have consequences for similar cases. There are thousands of people like Scheuer, who have claimed damages linked to the ignition defects.
GM agreed to pay $900 million US. There will be 5 more bellwether trials in 2016 after the first trial. The results of these cases could determine the fate of future cases involving defective ignition switches. The defect has been blamed for at least 124 deaths.
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