A Dearborn, Michigan, man filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against General Motors, alleging the automaker covered up problems involving defective ignition switches in Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions, and other car models.
The complaint is the first class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Michigan involving the ignition switch defect, and the third lawsuit nationwide, the Detroit News reports. The first suit was filed in Texas.
Adnan Jawad, who owns a 2007 Cobalt, is suing for negligence and breach of warranty. His 14-page legal complaint alleges GM covered up the ignition switch defect while proclaiming vehicle safety to customers. According to the complaint, “GM had information that the defective GM vehicles were involved in crashes leading to fatalities, and did nothing to correct the problems or even to warn the public.” Jawad told the News he is afraid to drive the car: “If you drive on the highway and the car cuts off, it could cost you your life.”
Last month GM recalled 1.6 million vehicles over the switch defect. The ignition switch, if jostled, can accidentally shut off the car’s engine, disabling the air bags. The recall includes 2005-7 Chevrolet Cobalts, 2003-7 Saturn Ions, 2006-7 Chevrolet HHRs and Pontiac Solstices, and the 2007 Saturn Skys and Pontiac G5s, The New York Times reported. GM has acknowledged a link between the defect and 31 crashes and 13 deaths, but some investigators now suspect many more deaths may be linked to the defect.
GM is the subject of a Justice Department criminal investigation into whether it complied with laws requiring timely disclosure of vehicle safety problems. The House and Senate will both hold hearings on the recall and safety issues. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sent GM 107 questions about the recall that must be answered, under oath, by April 3, the Times reports. All the investigations are focusing on why it took GM more than a decade to address the problem of the faulty ignition switches. GM engineers recommended fixes in 2004 and 2005 but these were not enacted.