General Motors is being sued by a Texas lawyer representing 658 people who claim they were injured or killed in crashes caused by vehicles with a faulty ignition switch, the Associated Press reports. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan Tuesday and names 29 different people who were killed in crashes and another 629 who were hurt.
Attorney Rob Hilliard said all the crashes occurred after GM’s emergence from bankruptcy protection in 2009. That makes all plaintiffs exempt from the shield protecting GM which relieves it of any responsibility for product defects which occurred before 2009. Hilliard also told AP he plans to ask judges for permission to file an additional 248 cases from before the bankruptcy.
Like other cases, the lawsuit claims GM knew about the defective switches since as early as 2001 and didn’t recall the vehicles until this year. Due to the defective switch, the engine may shutoff cutting power to the steering, brakes and airbags. The lawsuit is seeking $75,000 for each of the 658 plaintiffs.
Compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg will soon begin taking in claims from those who were injured or killed on behalf of GM in order for them to receive compensation on Friday. The automaker has placed no cap on the amount of money Feinberg can use to compensate victims, but put aside $400-600 million from its second-quarter earnings for the fund. Only owners of the initial 2.6 million small cars GM recalled in February, which sparked its recent onslaught of recalls, are eligible for compensation from the fund.