Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced a $120 million settlement between attorneys general of 49 states and the District of Columbia and General Motors Company (GM) after the company concealed known safety issues related to ignition switch defects in a number of its vehicles.
The multistate investigation began in 2014, after GM recalled several vehicle models in response to the issue that affected over nine million vehicles. The defective ignition switch could shut off the engine while driving, causing a litany of problems including loss of power steering, electrical systems, anti-lock braking and preventing airbags from deploying.
Hunter said companies need to be held accountable when putting profits over people.
“GM knew the dangers associated with allowing the defective ignition switches to continue on the market and chose to remain silent, which is unacceptable,” Hunter said. “For the company to continue marketing the defective vehicles as safe, even after knowledge of the issue was deceptive and unfortunately had a human toll associated with the company’s negligence. I am proud of my colleagues and staff, who fought tirelessly from start to finish for this settlement.”
In the lawsuit, states alleged certain GM employees knew of the safety defect as early as 2004. However, despite this knowledge, GM personnel decided it wasn’t a safety concern and delayed making recalls. GM continued to market the reliability and safety of its vehicles, which were equipped with the defective ignition switch.
As part of the agreement, GM will:
- Not represent that a motor vehicle is “safe” unless they have complied with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards applicable to the motor vehicle at issue;
- Not represent certified pre-owned vehicles GM advertises are safe and that they have been repaired for safety issues, or have been subject to rigorous inspection, unless such vehicles are not subject to any open recalls relating to safety or have been repaired pursuant to such a recall;
- Instruct its dealers that all applicable recall repairs must be completed before any GM motor vehicle sold in the United States and included in a recall is eligible for certification and, if there is a recall on any certified pre-owned vehicle sold in the United States, the required repair must be completed before the vehicle is delivered to a customer.
GM also agreed to pay the participating attorneys general a total of $120 Million, of which Oklahoma’s share is $1.6 million. The total is based on each state’s population. Oklahoma’s settlement will go toward advanced training, fraud prevention and enforcement of consumer protection laws.
In addition to Oklahoma, the multistate group included: South Carolina, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas plus Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.