A U.S. district judge has granted preliminary approval for a $120 million settlement between General Motors and vehicle owners claiming that defective GM ignition switches resulted in lost vehicle value.
According to a recent report from Automotive News, Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan gave approval for the settlement at a hearing conducted via telephone on Thursday. The settlement would bring a close to the final major piece of litigation concerning the GM ignition switch scandal. Final approval is still required following notification of rights for the vehicle owners.
The lawsuit was filed in connection to a major recall effort first initiated in February of 2014, which eventually resulted in roughly 30 million vehicles recalled worldwide over a faulty GM ignition switch design, with GM paying billions in penalties and settlements.
The faulty GM ignition switch design in question could lead to the ignition system switching to the “Off” position while the vehicle is in motion, thus shutting down the engine. The torque needed to change the ignition mode is required to be between 10 N-cm and 20 N-cm, however, the faulty GM ignition switches needed less than 10 N-cm to switch modes.
As a result, the driver’s knee, vehicle vibrations, or even heavy key chains could inadvertently switch the ignition off, causing the vehicle to stall and preventing the air bags from deploying in a crash.
The defect is attributed to 124 deaths, 18 serious injuries, and 257 injuries requiring some degree of medical treatment.
If given final approval, this latest $120 million settlement will be funded with $70 million from General Motors, as well as $50 million from a trust set up in connection with the automaker’s bankruptcy in 2009.