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General Motors Sued in California Over Ignition Switch (1)

March 19, 2014

General Motors Co. (GM:US), already facing lawsuits in Texas and Michigan over an ignition flaw, was sued in California on behalf of owners of 1.4 million vehicles affected by the defect.

The Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, which filed a complaint today in Santa Ana, California, said in a statement that it’s seeking to recover about $250 for each owner, or more than $350 million in total, plus punitive damages for the automaker’s alleged failure to disclose critical safety information.

General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said yesterday that it “took too long” to recall cars that stalled and killed 12 people. She appointed a new safety chief to ensure defects get a more timely resolution. “Our goal is that something like this will never happen again,” she said.

U.S. regulators and officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York office, according to a person familiar with the matter, are probing GM after the recall of 1.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other small-car models linked to the fatalities. On March 17, GM said it’s recalling 1.55 million vans, sedans and sport-utility vehicles, citing concerns over brakes, seat belts and air bags.

The named plaintiff in today’s complaint owns a 2007 Saturn Ion Coupe that she wouldn’t have bought, or would have paid less for than she did, if she’d known about the defects, according to the complaint.

Greg Martin, a spokesman for Detroit-based General Motors, said in an e-mail that he won’t comment on specific lawsuits.

“Our immediate focus is on getting the vehicles repaired quickly as we can with as little inconvenience to the customers as possible,” Martin said. “At the same time, we are conducting a rigorous investigation to find out what went wrong and why.”

The case is McConnell v. General Motors LLC, 14-00424, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Federal court in Los Angeles at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at Peter Blumberg

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