Just as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration deep dives into investigating General Motors for handling a recall affecting about 1.6 million cars due to what’s becoming the infamous ignition switch recall, General Motors seems to have found legal protection from possible lawsuits from consumers. The shield involves the “Old GM” and the “New GM” that emerged from the 2009 bankruptcy.
According to Automotive News, the company came to an agreement with state attorney generals and consumer groups during its restructuring that involves only being liable for vehicles it built from the time it left bankruptcy, around the July 2009 timeframe. This means that if parties are interested in suing GM for issues that took place with vehicles built before GM’s exit from bankruptcy, they would have to go after the “Old GM” in bankruptcy court. As of this writing, all attempts to legally pursue the new organization for pre-2009 liabilities have failed.
“It is true that new GM did not assume liability for claims arising from incidents or accidents occurring prior to July 2009,” told GM spokesperson Greg Martin to Automotive News.
Since the vehicles affected by the 1.6 million-car recall were manufactured between 2003 and 2007, GM’s responsibility to claims for vehicles built after 2009 greatly reduces the number of possible trials against the New GM. As it currently stands, the amount of incidents related to the ignition switch fault stands at 31 accidents and 13 deaths.
Whether or not this development will be relevant going forward, however, is an entirely different question — and we sincerely hope that this fact isn’t utilized by GM to remove liability from the vehicles it built, albeit as a different corporate entity. Instead, we hope that GM uses the situation as an opportunity to show America and the world its corporate responsibility ethos and newfound customer-driven way of doing business, to the extent that is appropriate.