Our Atlanta wrongful death and defective product attorneys have followed closely the story of GM’s malfunctioning cars that have killed numerous people, the scope of which we may not even know yet. Of particular notice is a case that happened in Georgia, when 29-year-old nurse Brooke Melton died near Atlanta in a 2010 car crash (this blog has talked about her case earlier this year; you can read it here). The crash was, according to her parents, due to a faulty ignition switch in her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, which shut off the engine while she was driving and because of that she lost control of the car.
Brooke’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against GM in a Georgia court, but GM had it moved to a federal court. According to recent news reports, that federal court in Atlanta ordered Brooke’s case to be transferred back to Cobb County court. Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. at the Atlanta district court sent it back. But now the Meltons still have to convince Cobb County Judge Kathryn Tanksley to reopen the case, which isn’t easy. The Meltons settled with GM for $5 million last year, but they want to give the money back and reopen the trial. To do that, the Meltons have to prove that GM fraudulently concealed evidence. That may be possible given the spotlight on how GM knew about faulty ignition switches, like the one in Brooke’s car, for more than a decade and never issued a recall to fit it. Already this year, GM has issued 54 recalls affecting 29 million vehicles. And there has been a deluge of cover-up allegations, similar to Brooke’s case. On the ignition switch issue, there are claims that the design was changed after it went into production, even though the engineers denied this claim before. The federal government regulators fined GM $35 million because of delays in reporting on these kinds of safety problems.
Lawyers working on the Meltons’ case are hopeful that this move back to state court will speed up the questioning of GM executives and employees. The Meltons’ team wants to depose Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, GM’s Corporate Counsel Michael Millikin, the engineer who designed the ignition switch, Ray DeGiorgio, and also the 15 GM employees who were dismissed because of the ignition issue. Also, a local jury is more likely to award punitive damages to punish GM if the Meltons succeed with proving their case.
After the transfer, GM filed a motion in Cobb County court to dismiss the Meltons’ case due to the settlement over the same injury claims. Their motion stated, “That case was settled and bars the plaintiffs’ current alleged claims.” GM also denies liability in Brooke’s case, saying the ignition switch was not why she lost control of her car.
Atlanta Wrongful Death and Defective Product Lawyers
If a loved one has died due to the negligence of another, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you understand your case and advise you how to proceed, so contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.