Long before the Volkswagen scandal about deceptive emissions testing, General Motors (GM) was under fire for its faulty ignition switch in many makes and models. Scrutiny into the faulty switch, which caused some cars to unexpectedly shut off and airbags failing to deploy, began in early 2014. On Oct. 19, 2017, the New York State Attorney General’s Office announced that it had reached a $4.3 million settlement with GM out of the entire payment of $120 million that will be shared by 49 other U.S. states. What’s more, GM had already forfeited $900 million to the federal government and this is only the latest blow to the auto maker. The fact that GM instituted recalls of millions of their motor vehicles — but apparently knew of the defect during the production process for at least 10 years — is of interest to lawyer Jeffrey Benjamin to say the least. The deaths of 124 motorists that were attributed to the ignition defects is both a travesty and a tragedy, Mr. Benjamin added, but it also displays exactly why consumers’ rights are crucial to pursue.
According to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the settlement is the culmination of the multi-state investigation into the ignition switch defects. According to previous media reports, the key could rotate while in the ignition and cause certain unexpected consequences and malfunctions of vehicle systems. According to a press release from the attorney general’s office, the settlement was reached because GM failed to “disclose in a timely manner known safety defects associated with unintended key rotation.” When considering the facts of the case and the lengths to which an attorney in Georgia went to obtain internal GM documents during the first lawsuit stemming from GM ignition defects, lawyer Jeffrey Benjamin believes that reaching a settlement with the car company was the right thing to do. New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman didn’t mince words in announcing the agreement and stated his stance clearly, claiming that the car company “turned a blind eye.”
“Instead of prioritizing customers, General Motors turned a blind eye for years and chose to conceal the safety defects associated with several models of their vehicles,” Schneiderman said in the press release. “New Yorkers should not have to worry about their steering or brakes failing or their airbags not deploying when they get behind the wheel.”
According to the release, the states that sued GM claimed that their negligence over the switch was unfair, deceptive and violated consumer protection laws – including New York’s executive law and general business law. Lawyer Jeffrey Benjamin, who is located in the New York area, has represented clients in court and tried cases that involve the New York Deceptive Practices Act. Given his experience when it comes to consumer rights and the honest policies that GM should have adopted a decade ago, the culmination of this case is encouraging. To those who’ve experienced fraud or suspect that they may be the victim of such practices, Lawyer Jeffrey Benjamin suggests that you find a skilled and experienced legal professional for you in court.