GM Off the Hook as Judge Quashes Demand for "Park-It" Order

Apr 17 2014, 6:24pm CDT | by

General Motors Co. finally caught a break in a Texas court its ongoing ignition safety snafu.

GM has already been forced it to recall 2.6 million vehicles with defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths. The company expects the campaign will cost it $1.3 million. CEO Mary Barra was raked over the coals in Congress last week. And personal injury lawsuits are mounting.

Plaintiffs Charles and Grace Silvas, owners of a recalled 2006 Chevy Cobalt, sought a federal emergency order to force GM to tell its customers to stop driving all eight models involved in the recall.

But today U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi, Texas, denied that unprecedented request. The judge is deferring to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which she says is better equipped to deal with the complex technical issues involved. Ramos notes that the Silvas haven’t made any attempt to get NHTSA to issue a “Park-It” order.

GM spokesman Greg Martin says the company is “pleased with the ruling.” The first replacement ignition parts are now on their way to dealers, and recall repairs are scheduled to begin next week.

The carmaker insists the recalled vehicles are safe to drive if consumers take everything off their key rings except car keys. With a heavily laden keychain, if one of those cars hit a bump, the defective ignition switch can turn off the engine and disable airbags and power brakes. That’s scary news for drivers in parts of the country where roads are riddled with potholes after a bad winter.

Bob Hilliard, the Silvas’ attorney, claims GM knows that “by winning this hearing, people will die or be seriously injured” in their defective vehicles.”

But the couple’s motion didn’t cite lofty claims about the public good. The Silvas sought the “Park-It” order to protect the resale value of their Cobalt and their personal safety if recalled cars aren’t taken off the road.

The automaker is still facing potentially huge damages in suits filed on behalf of people killed or injured because of defective ignition switches. Earlier this week, GM asked a federal court to shield it from liability in any accidents that occurred before it emerged from bankruptcy in mid-2009 as a new company.

Plaintiffs in other class-action case are demanding payouts for the resale value they say their vehicles have lost because of the recall. Typically, an automaker will settle such claims by offering owners a rebate on the purchase of one of its new vehicles.

 
 
 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Mazda Rotary to Become Turbocharged
Mazda Rotary to Become Turbocharged
The engineers at Mazda are reportedly working on a possibility of a high-revving rotary engine on track.
 
 
2016 Ferrari FF Teased Before 2016 Geneva Motor Show
2016 Ferrari FF Teased Before 2016 Geneva Motor Show
The teaser for Ferrari FF shows an updated front with slimmer headlights resembling silver eyebrows.
 
 
Honda to Sale Hybrid Odyssey Absolute only in Japan
Honda to Sale Hybrid Odyssey Absolute only in Japan
The 2 new affordable priced models will be the latest additions to the Honda Odyssey line-up.
 
 
Audi E-Tron Quattro Coming in 2018
Audi E-Tron Quattro Coming in 2018
Audi plans to move forward with its electric mobility venture with the development of a site in Belgium.