Firm files lawsuit against GM

Published 1:53 pm Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Montgomery-based law firm has filed a personal injury lawsuit related to the GM ignition switch recall.

Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles announced Tuesday that it had filed a personal injury lawsuit in Indiana on behalf of Josh Cull and Samantha Zollman.

Both Cull and Zollman were injured in a single-car crash in Clark County, Ind., on Oct. 31, 2012.

According to the law firm, Cull was driving his 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt and was operating his vehicle safely when the defective ignition switch inadvertently moved out of the “run” position. This disabled the power steering, power brakes and airbag system. In the subsequent crash, both driver and passenger front airbags failed to deploy. As a result, both the driver and passenger suffered severe facial injuries.

Cull lost his right eye, and Zollman is still undergoing facial reconstructive surgeries.

Beasley Allen lawyers Jere Beasley, Cole Portis and Mike Andrews, together with David Stewart from the Stewart and Stewart firm, which is located in Carmel, Ind., are representing the plaintiffs.

“Josh Cull was traveling at the speed limit when he was involved in a single-vehicle accident,” said Andrews. “It was the type of crash a person ordinarily walks away from with only minimal injuries. But because of the ignition switch defect that disabled the power steering, power brakes and the airbags, Josh and Samantha sustained serious permanent injuries. They are among the hundreds of victims who trusted GM to make and sell safe vehicles.”

The lawsuit is the second filed by Beasley Allen related to the recent recall by General Motors (GM) that addresses the ignition switch problem that allows the key to unintentionally slip from the “run” to “off” or “accessory” position while the vehicle is being operated.  The ignition defect causes the sudden loss of engine power, braking and steering, creating a hazardous emergency situation. The air bag system is also disabled and rendered useless.

The faulty switches have been linked to 13 deaths. GM issued a recall related to the switches that covers the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice, 2007 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn ION, and 2007 Saturn Sky. The recall was expanded in the last several days to include the 2008–2010 Pontiac Solstice and G5; 2008-2010 Saturn Sky; 2008-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt; and the 2008-2011 Chevrolet HHR.

According to the lawsuit filed by Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, “court documents and other evidence reveal that GM knew about the ignition switch problem as early as 2001. However, GM rejected several design changes and solutions that were recommended by its own engineers on numerous occasions because of the cost and the time it would take to make the changes.”

Ken Gibson, a dealer at Greenville Motor Company, said the dealership takes the recalls very seriously.

“Several of these recalls are safety issues of which we take very seriously,” said Gibson. “We would like to explain some of the recalls, and how we can solve these problems no matter where they bought the vehicle. Even if you own a Saturn or a Pontiac, bring it to us.”

Greenville Motor Company and GM will provide a free loaner or a rental car to people nervous about driving their recalled cars before they are fixed.  The free rental also includes additional costs for insurance for under-insured drivers and covers the extra insurance fees for younger drivers. Owners don’t have to prove their switches are faulty or that they’ve been in accidents to qualify.

Affected owners are also offered cash toward buying or leasing a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle. The allowance is intended to assist those customers who are unhappy and may want to trade out of their vehicle.

“This special cash allowance is not a sales tool,” said Charles Haigler, Greenville Motor Company owner.

Defendants named in the lawsuit filed by the Montgomery-based firm are General Motors LLC, Delphi Automotive Systems, LLC; Delphi Automotive PLC; Delphi Automotive LLC; Chandler Chevrolet and Jim Hadley Chevrolet.  The lawsuit was filed in Clark County, Indiana, on April 15, 2014.