GM Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Case That Prompted Ignition Recalls

Illustration for article titled GM Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Case That Prompted Ignition Recalls

Attorneys for the family of 29-year-old Brooke Melton announced Friday that they reached an out-of-court settlement agreement with General Motors, ending a second wrongful death lawsuit in a case that exposed the ignition switch defect in the first place.


The Wall Street Journal reports that the Georgia law firm representing Melton's family reached an agreement with GM over claims that the automaker withheld information during a prior lawsuit.

Melton, a 29-year-old nurse, was killed in 2010 when her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt's ignition switch slipped into the accessory position while she was driving, sending it skidding into another vehicle and rolling into a creek. The car's airbags did not deploy in the crash.

Melton's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and during the course of that case it came out that GM engineers knew about the ignition switch problem for years. That became national news, prompting the slew of recalls at GM, investigations by the government, and ultimately a total of 64 death claims being approved by a compensation fund set up by the automaker.

Though GM settled the original case with Melton's family, attorneys sought to re-open it in 2014 alleging the automaker "committed fraud and concealed information in the first settlement," as the Journal reports quoting lawyer Lance Cooper:

"One of the most important issues for the Meltons was accountability," Mr. Cooper said in a statement regarding the suit filed on behalf of Ken and Beth Melton. "This is a company that concealed this defect for years. They wanted to hold GM accountable, and that is what refiling the lawsuit did."

The terms of the settlement are confidential, attorneys said.

Photo credit AP

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I'm gonna ask it.... How much is a life worth to GM?