Two Long Island men filed separate lawsuits in federal court in 2014 against General Motors over faulty ignition switches in their vehicles. The switches can suddenly turn to the “off” position, causing a vehicle to stall. As a result, a vehicle loses its power brakes, power steering, and the air bags will not deploy in an accident. Thirteen deaths have been linked to the faulty switches, and GM, which knew about the problem for over a decade, has recalled 17.3 million vehicles as the result of the defect.
New Hyde Park resident Dr. Steven Groman filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against GM in April 2014. In the suit, Groman claims that his Chevy SUV shut off four times after he bought the vehicle brand new in 2008. On two occasions, Gorman was driving on the Long Island Expressway when his vehicle suddenly shut off, causing him to lose his power brakes and steering. Although Groman brought the vehicle back to the dealership to be fixed on numerous occasions, auto mechanics were never able to fix the problem. To avoid a serious accident, Groman decided to travel on back roads to go to work to avoid “another shutdown incident in fast-moving traffic.” Fearing for his safety, Groman finally traded in his vehicle at a financial loss in 2011.
In June 2014, William Ross, a 65-year-old disabled Vietnam veteran, filed a similar lawsuit in federal court in Central Islip. The suit claims that Ross was in two accidents caused by a defective ignition switch in his 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. While driving in Levittown in 2012, Ross lost control of his car when it suddenly shut down, causing him to hit a barrier. Ross suffered from “scarring and disfiguring” on his right arm, which is now in chronic pain. The accident caused $6,297 in damage to his vehicle. During a second accident in March 2014, Ross hit a divider on a local road when the key suddenly switch to the “off” position. Ross stated that the dealership told him that his car wasn’t part of the ignition switch recall issued by GM. However, a week later, he received a notice in the mail from GM telling him that it was. Commenting on the lawsuit, Ross remarked, “It wasn’t because of the money. It’s because they [the dealership] lied to my face.”
Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney hired by GM to oversee settlement payments related to the defective switched, stated that there is no limit as to how much the company will pay as a result of accidents and injuries caused by the switch. He stated, “GM has basically said whatever it costs to pay any eligible claims under the protocol they will pay it. There is no ceiling.”
Website Resource: LI man sues GM over ignition-switch defect, NY Post, Rich Calder, April 8, 2014
Two LI suits targeting GM seek damages for faulty ignition switches, NY Newsday, Tom Incantulpo, July 3, 2014