It seems as though fate is hell-bent on reopening the wound that is the General Motors ignition switch scandal; just recently we learned of emails requesting 500,000 new switches, almost two months before General Motors acknowledged any safety defect or issued a recall.
Now, 11 years after her death, the family of Connecticut woman Jean Averill is only now learning that the fatality was linked to the ignition switch, in 2003.
As Autoblog reports, General Motors had internally identified the link between Averill’s death and the ignition switch defect back in 2003; in fact, it was the first death the automaker logged involving the Saturn Ion. But that name, and the names of 12 other victims that General Motors had linked to the defect much earlier than the official investigation, were redacted in the original report.
Only after The NY Times managed to uncover the 13 redacted names did the families of the victims know that their loved ones’ deaths had been linked to the faulty ignition switch.
General Motors has set a deadline of December 31st for victims’ families to make a claim with GM’s victim compensation fund; a deadline which is fast approaching for the Averill family, and others, who only just learned of the defect’s implication in the deaths of family members.
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal (D), for one, is furious. He has been one of the most outspoken critics of General Motors’ handling of the ignition switch scandal. As he wrote in a statement: “General Motors failure to inform the Averill family of its clear internal determination – that Jean’s death resulted form the company’s continuing use of a defective ignition switch – undercuts everything it has said about its good faith and its integrity.”