Press Release

Litigation Pushes Ski Boat Manufacturers to Safer Designs – Safety Research & Strategies Inc.

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The Cooper Firm In The News

Litigation Pushes Ski Boat Manufacturers to Safer Designs

By Sean Kane, Safety Research & Strategies Inc.

3 years ago a young boy lost his life while enjoying a day on the lake with his family. 7-year-old Ryan Batchelder, along with 5 other members of his family were out on Lake Rabun when their boat, a Malibu Bowrider manufactured by Malibu Boats, dipped under its own wake and took on water, tossing Ryan and another family member overboard.  To correct the flooding issue, the driver put the boat in reverse. Still in the water, Ryan became entangled with the propeller and died from drowning and loss of blood. It’s a tragic story. A story we believe should have never happened if the Malibu Bowrider had been properly designed and tested.

Sean Kane with Safety Research & Strategies Inc. has more details about this potential design flaw. Read the full investigative story here.

The Cooper Firm is currently representing the Batchelder family to investigate and identify this potential product defect. In addition to seeking justice for their son Ryan, they hope to save more families from experiencing this type of tragedy.

Safety Regulators Investigating New Jeep Grand Cherokee Rollaway after Injuries and Complaints

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Auto Recall Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Safety Regulators Investigating New Jeep Grand Cherokee Rollaway after Injuries and Complaints

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation for new Jeep SUVs after receiving several complaints that the vehicles can roll away unexpectedly after drivers put them in park.

The investigation covers 408,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees manufactured in 2014 and 2015. NHTSA received 14 complaints regarding the issue. Out of the complaints, there were five crashes and three injuries. One of the complaints involved a man from North Carolina who was backing up his Jeep while towing a trailer when he heard a noise. After putting the vehicle in park, he got out of the vehicle to take a look. The Jeep ended up rolling backwards and the driver’s door knocked the man to the ground. The left tire then rolled over his pelvic area causing him serious injuries.

NHTSA highlighted in its investigation that the new model Jeeps have electronic gear selectors compared to shifters that move along a track which are found in most vehicles. This could be contributing to the issue of the rollaways. Fiat Chrysler will be working with NHTSA on the investigation and has stated that it has not found any safety defects on its vehicles related to this rollaway issue.

The investigation will help the safety agency determine how often the problem occurs, how many vehicles it affects and if there is a greater safety issue before having the automaker issue a recall.

If you or someone you know has experienced an injury related to a roll away or defective vehicle, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

Ikea Recalls Nightlights for Electrical Shock

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Childcare Product Safety Attorney

Ikea Recalls Nightlights for Electrical Shock

Ikea is recalling 442,000 nightlights because the plastic cover can detach and expose electrical components, creating a risk of electrical shock and injuries.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that Ikea will be taking the PATRULL nightlight off the market and is recommending that consumers stop using the product immediately. Ikea will be offering a refund for the recalled products.

The nightlights automatically switch on and off based on light sensor and come in white, orange and pink. Ikea received a report of a child in Austria who tried to remove the nightlight from the outlet and suffered electrical shock and a minor hand injury due to the plastic cover detaching. No incidents have been reported in the United States or in Canada. The lights sold at Ikea stores and on the company’s website for about $4 a piece from August 2013 to July 2015.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective product, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

Press Release: Melton Case Settles After Exposing GM Cover-up

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PRESS RELEASE - The Cooper Firm Personal Injury Lawyer

News Release

 Melton Case Settles After Exposing GM Cover-up

WHAT: News conference call to address the Melton v. GM case
WHO: Lance Cooper, The Cooper FirmBeasley Allen Founding Shareholder Jere L. Beasley
WHEN: Monday, March 16, 2015 10:00 a.m. CST / 11:00 a.m. EST
WHERE: Ready Access Number: 866-365-44067-Diget Access Code: 4275588
WHY: The Cooper Firm and Beasley Allen Law Firm will be addressing a development in the Melton v. General Motors lawsuit.

March 13, 2015

Lead GM defective ignition switch case resolved with confidential settlement after accomplishing goals of bringing cover-up to light and holding GM accountable for consumer safety

MARIETTA, GEORGIA. (March 13, 2015)  – Lawyers representing Ken and Beth Melton, whose claims against General Motors for the death of their daughter exposed a 10-year cover-up of the ignition switch defect, announced that a second lawsuit has been resolved with a confidential settlement.

Brooke Melton, 29, died in a March 2010 crash when the ignition switch in her 2005 Cobalt slipped into the accessory position as she was driving, causing her car to skid into another vehicle. The initial resolution of her case touched off a national controversy over GM’s deception, resulting in $35 million in civil fines, millions of vehicles recalled, Congressional hearings over GM’s failures and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) lackluster response, and a multi-district litigation (MDL). Among the revelations: GM lied under oath in the original Melton case, prompting her parents to pursue GM again for fraud.

Ken and Beth Melton are hoping that Brooke’s death serves as a catalyst to motivate General Motors and other major automakers to address deadly defects promptly, instead of ignoring them, and prevents other needless tragedies. Lance Cooper and his firm in Marietta, Ga., and the Beasley Allen firm in Montgomery, Ala., represented the Meltons.

“One of the most important issues for the Meltons was accountability. This is a company that concealed this defect for years. They wanted to hold GM accountable, and that is what refiling the lawsuit did,” Cooper said. “They are grieving parents who simply wanted the truth and for no one else to suffer a similar loss.”

The 2010 crash was initially attributed to Brooke losing control of her car on a rainy night. But an investigation revealed the vehicle was equipped with a faulty ignition switch that allowed the key to turn out of the “run” to the “accessory” or “off” position, cutting power steering, anti-lock braking, lights, and disabling the air bags. After 18 months of discovery and a court order, GM finally produced documents showing that GM engineers first noted the ignition switch problem during the Cobalt’s production stage. GM took the defective vehicles to market anyway, and began to rack up complaints almost immediately. GM attempted to “fix” the problem with an October 2005 Technical Service Bulletin, but failed. For the next nine years, dozens of individuals died and hundreds of others were injured by the defective switches.

In September 2013, the Meltons agreed to settle their case with GM for $5 million. At the time, GM admitted knowledge of the defect, but claimed ignorance on the matter of who changed the defective ignition switch design or authorized that change. Five months later, GM announced a recall for a small subset of the vehicles affected by the defect, but told NHTSA nothing about its long history. On Feb. 19, 2014, the Meltons alerted NHTSA to GM’s knowledge of the faulty switch, and requested that the agency open an investigation called a Timeliness Query to determine if GM met its legal obligation to recall a vehicle within five business days of discovering a defect and if the company had failed to recall all of the affected vehicles.

“The fact that Mr. and Mrs. Melton would be willing to take on a corporate giant and end up being directly responsible for alerting both the government and the public to a massive cover-up by General Motors is one of the most courageous things that I’ve experienced in my career as a lawyer,” Jere Beasley, Principal & Founder of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., said. “The Meltons truly are heroes for American consumers. I am extremely proud of them and am honored to have been asked to help represent them in a most worthy cause.”

By April 2014, the Meltons learned that GM knew much more about the defect than it attested to in 2013, and asked the company to rescind the original settlement. The couple offered to return the money, and filed a second lawsuit in State Court of Cobb, County, Ga., charging GM with putting a known defective vehicle on the highway and with fraud in the original lawsuit and settlement.

GM established a victim compensation fund to evaluate claims to determine eligibility and compensation amounts for drivers, passengers and pedestrians killed or injured by one of the defective GM vehicles. As of Feb. 1, GM had received a total of 4,180 claims for compensation, according to Kenneth Feinberg, the fund administrator. To date, Mr. Feinberg has determined that 64 deaths and 108 other injury claims are eligible for compensation.  But for the Meltons’ efforts, most of these injured drivers and passengers would not have received any compensation, much less fair and appropriate compensation from GM.  Mr. Feinberg took an active role in working with the Meltons’ attorneys to settle the claims arising out of the second lawsuit.

The Melton lawsuit also caused the GM ignition switch litigation to move forward in the MDL. In September 2014, U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman, who is overseeing the MDL, ruled against GM’s efforts to halt discovery efforts, noting coordinated discovery in the MDL and the Melton case should proceed immediately. The first MDL case is scheduled for trial in January 2016 due in large part to the Meltons’ decision to proceed with their second lawsuit.

About The Cooper Firm

Lance Cooper founded The Cooper Firm in 2006. With experience in substantial personal injury and wrongful death cases, he has represented plaintiffs in numerous civil jury trials and has successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases and gained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. For more information, visit www.thecooperfirm.com.

 About Beasley Allen Law Firm

Headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., Beasley Allen is comprised of more than 70 attorneys and 200 support staff. Beasley Allen is a national leader in civil litigation, with verdicts and settlements in excess of $22 billion. For more information about our firm, please visit our website at www.beasleyallen.com.

 

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Media Contacts: 

The Cooper Firm:

Victoria Schneider
(770) 427-5588
(770) 675-6443 direct
victoria@thecooperfirm.com

Beasley Allen:

Helen Taylor
(334) 495-1169
(334) 221-2311 cell
(800) 898-2034 x169
helen.taylor@beasleyallen.com

The Safety Institute Announces Quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List: Tracking Top 15 Potential Vehicle Defects

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News Release

February 6, 2015

The Safety Institute Announces Quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List: Tracking Top 15 Potential Vehicle Defects

February 6, 2015 – Today, The Safety Institute is releasing its latest quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List. For the third quarter in a row, potential power steering issues affecting the 2012 Ford Focus top the list. (See first and second quarterly Watch List). In addition, Toyota continues to occupy several spots for potential structure and unintended acceleration claims; General Motors remains on the list for potential service brake issues. None of these issues have been investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or remedied by the manufacturer.

The Safety Institute launched the Watch List in June to document the early signs of defects in the U.S. fleet. The reports also help identify potential failures to effectively fix known vehicle issues and provide evidence-based data for directing investigatory resources. The Watch List is a tool for researchers, safety advocates, attorneys, consumers, journalists and federal agencies to identify trends.

This release comes at a time when NHTSA has recently come under fire by Congress for failing to investigate defects in GM ignition switches and Takata airbags. On January 8, NHTSA levied a $70 million fine against Honda — the largest in the agency’s history — for failing to report half of its death and injury claims.

“The Vehicle Safety Watch List is an example of leveraging already available data to help prioritize investigative resources. This type of tool can help identify and potentially prevent costly safety crises that not only cause harm to consumers but take extra resources to manage” said Sean Kane, The Safety Institute’s founder and president of the board.

Using publicly available data such as NHTSA consumer complaints in the Vehicle Owners Questionnaire (VOQ) database, manufacturer-reported Early Warning Reports on deaths and injuries, and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), The Safety Institute Watch List identifies potential motor vehicle safety defects that merit additional engineering and statistical review. The Safety Institute queried all reports forwarded to NHTSA from the third quarter of 2013 through the second quarter of 2014 for all deaths and injuries claims involving light vehicles made to the following manufacturers: BMW of North America, LLC; Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company; General Motors LLC; Honda (American Honda Motor Co.); Hyundai Motor Company; Jaguar Cars LTD; KIA Motors Corporation; Land Rover; Mazda Motor Corp.; Mercedes-Benz USA LLC.; Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc.; Nissan North America Inc.; Porsche Cars North America Inc.; Saab Cars North America Inc.; Subaru of America Inc.; Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.; Tesla Motors, Inc; Toyota Motor Corporation; Volkswagen of America Inc.; and Volvo Cars of N.A. LLC.

Other potential defects that continue to be seen on the Watch List include structure issues in the 2005 and 2006 Toyota Sienna in 6th and 12th place. The 2011 and 2012 Chevy Cruze is in 4th and 7th place for potentially malfunctioning service brakes. Speed control complaints are again a standout for the Toyota Camry — the 2007 Toyota Camry, the 2006 Camry, the 2010 Camry, and the 2005 Camry occupy the 5th, 10th, 14th, and 15th places in the current Watch List

Some manufacturers have initiated recalls that may be related to issues on the list, but death and injury claims continue to mount. These complaints may indicate that the recall repairs were improperly performed or that they did not resolve a potential defect, or the root cause has not been properly identified.

For example, Toyota initiated a safety recall in 2008 to replace the Liftgate struts in approximately 196,222 model year 2004-2006 Toyota Sienna vehicles equipped with power rear Liftgate struts. Toyota also issued a recall for certain Model Year 1998 through 2010 Sienna passenger vehicles manufactured between August 7, 1997 and January 4, 2010, due to the corrosion of the spare tire carrier when high concentrations of road salt reach the carrier.

In August 2103, General Motors recalled 293,000 2011MY and 2012MY Cruze vehicles for intermittent loss of the brake assist. Consumer complaints to NHTSA continue to mention brake failures even after the recall repair was performed.

Attorney Lance Cooper, whose work on behalf of the family of a woman who died in a crash caused by the switch failure brought the defect to light, says that the Watch List can prevent future tragedies.

“We are pleased that the Vehicle Safety Watch is serving its intended purpose. This data should be used to further investigate potential defects in order to save lives and reduce injuries,” Cooper said.

The Quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List is a product of the Institute’s Vehicle Safety Watch List Analytics and the NHTSA Enforcement Monitoring Program. Lance Cooper, of the Cooper Firm in Marietta, Ga., sponsors the program in memory of Brooke Melton, who died in a 2010 crash caused by the sudden failure of the ignition in her 2005 Chevy Cobalt. The Watch List is compiled using on peer-reviewed analytic methods, with support from Quality Control Systems Corp. These reports are intended to help the public recognize emerging problems in the U.S. fleet and to identify continuing failures potentially associated with known problems.

About The Safety Institute

The Safety Institute examines areas of injury prevention and product safety across a broad spectrum. The Institute bases its plans and priorities on issues that require greater study and emphasis, as well as those which may be underserved by other organizations and advocates. The Institute gives special attention to those areas of emerging importance to injury and product safety, including the effects of new and changing technologies.

About The Cooper Firm

Lance Cooper founded The Cooper Firm in 2006. With experience in substantial personal injury and wrongful death cases, he has represented plaintiffs in numerous civil jury trials and has successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases and gained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. For more information, visit www.thecooperfirm.com.

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Contacts:

Jamie Wilson
646-644-6320
Jamie@Thesafetyinstitute.org
 
 
Sean Kane
508-252-2333
 
Victoria Schneider
770-427-5588
Victoria@thecooperfirm.com

Press Release – The Safety Institute Announces Quarterly Vehicle Safety

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PRESS RELEASE - The Cooper Firm Personal Injury Lawyer

News Release

The Safety Institute Announces Quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List: Tracking Top 15 Potential Vehicle Defects

Thursday October 2, 2014

Today, The Safety Institute is releasing the latest report from its quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List. Steering problems in the 2012 Ford Focus again top the second quarterly Watch List. (See first quarterly Watch List). Other notable potential defects are malfunctioning service brakes in 2011 and 2012 Chevy Cruze vehicles and speed control issues in Toyota Camrys.

Using publicly available data such as NHTSA consumer complaints in the Vehicle Owners Questionnaire (VOQ) database, manufacturer-reported Early Warning Reports on deaths and injuries, and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), The Safety Institute Watch List identifies potential motor vehicle safety defects that merit additional engineering and statistical review.

Today’s release shows that the top identified problem involves injury claims about the steering of the 2012 Ford Focus. These claims may be associated with complaints to NHTSA about two separate issues: allegations that the electric power steering shuts down randomly and intermittently as well as complaints about delaminating steering wheels that lacerate drivers’ hands.

For example, one driver lodged this complaint on June 18, 2014: The steering wheel has sharp metal edges protruding from the top of the wheel.While driving on the highway, I sliced my finger on the edge. Not a major incident… but upon reviewing the Internet this is apparently a common issue with the Ford Focus… My hope is that Ford will repair or replace the metal on the wheel so it is no longer a danger while driving.”

There are currently no open investigations by NHTSA regarding the 2012 Ford Focus.

Other notable injury claims in the early warning reporting data concern the service brakes of the 2011 and 2012 Chevy Cruze, which, respectively, occupy the number two and three positions on the list. In August 2103, General Motors recalled 293,000 2011 MY and 2012 MY Cruze vehicle for intermittent loss of the brake assist.

Consumer complaints to NHTSA mention brake failures even after the recall repair was performed:

For a MY 2011 Cruze incident on May 27, 2014:

Chevy Cruze after recall # 12213 for brake vacuum micro switch has been completed. The vehicle is displaying the exact same symptoms as before the recall work was done…

For a 2012 Chevy Cruze incident on June 30, 2014:

… The driver indicated that during the incident the brakes malfunctioned and did not stop the vehicle… The contact indicated that the remedy for the NHTSA campaign number 13V36000… was previously performed on the vehicle.” These complaints may indicate that the recall repairs were improperly performed or that they did not resolve a potential defect with a root cause that has not been properly identified.

Camry speed control complaints are again a standout. Injury claims related to speed control problems, including potential unintended acceleration incidents, have placed the 2007 Toyota Camry, the 2005 Camry, the 2006 Camry, and the 2009 Camry in the current Watch List’s 5th, 8th, 11th, and 12th places. This pattern strongly suggests that Toyota’s recalls for floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals have not succeeded in eliminating complaints and claims, and that vehicles not included in the recalls continue to experience problems.

“The Safety Institute’s Vehicle Safety Watch List provides an opportunity for regulators and manufacturers to examine unusual patterns of claims and resolve them before they become major crises” said Sean Kane, founder and president of the board of directors of The Safety Institute. The most recent Congressional investigations into the General Motors ignition switch safety scandal emphasize once again that the early detection of potential vehicle safety issues benefits everyone through the opportunity to reduce deaths, injuries, and financial losses.

Attorney Lance Cooper, whose work on behalf of the family of a woman who died in a crash caused by the switch failure brought the defect to light, says that the Watch List can prevent future tragedies. “The GM debacle demonstrates the importance of using analytical tools and examining the data. Our hope that Watch List will become an important metric for consumers as well as for manufacturers and regulators.” Cooper said.

About the List

The Quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List is a product of the Institute’s Vehicle Safety Watch List Analytics and the NHTSA Enforcement Monitoring Program. Lance Cooper of the Cooper Firm in Marietta, Ga., sponsors the program in memory of Brooke Melton, who died in a 2010 crash caused by the sudden failure of the ignition in her 2005 Chevy Cobalt. The Watch List is compiled using on peer-reviewed analytic methods, with support from Quality Control Systems Corp. These reports are intended to help the public recognize emerging problems in the U.S. fleet and to identify continuing failures potentially associated with known problems.

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The Safety Institute examines areas of injury prevention and product safety across a broad spectrum. The Institute bases its plans and priorities on issues that require greater study and emphasis, as well as those which may be underserved by other organizations and advocates. The Institute gives special attention to those areas of emerging importance to injury and product safety, including the effects of new and changing technologies.

##

Contacts:
Jamie Wilson, 646-644-6320 or Jamie@Thesafetyinstitute.org
Sean Kane, 508-252-2333

Press Release: Number of Eligible Death Claims Surpasses the Original Number of Deaths Reported by GM

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In The News - The Cooper Firm

News Release

Number of Eligible Death Claims Surpasses the Original Number of Deaths Reported by GM

September 15, 2014

Lawyer Kenneth Feinberg releases first set of statistics for the GM ignition switch compensation plan.

MARIETTA, GA – (September 15, 2014) Kenneth Feinberg, the attorney hired by General Motors to help with the compensation of victims involved in accidents caused by the company’s defective ignition switch has released the first set of statistics for the compensation plan. The statistics show that there are 19 death claims that are eligible to receive payments so far. That is 6 more deaths than the company said were tied to the problem originally. Overall, 125 claims were submitted for deaths and 320 submitted for injuries. The deadline to submit is December 31, 2014.

“We have known all along that the death toll from these defective switches would be much higher than GM’s original number,” said Lance Cooper in response to Mr. Feinberg’s announcement. “Mr. Feinberg has moved quickly in deciding that 19 death claims are eligible to receive payment under the plan. Hopefully, for the over 80 percent of death claims being still considered, Mr. Feinberg will, after reviewing all the evidence submitted, make the right decision and find that the families of these victims are also eligible to receive payment under the plan.”

It has not been released whether any of the 19 claims include all or any of the 13 previously acknowledged victims. The fund has currently received 58 claims for serious injuries and 262 claims for less serious injuries. Out of those claims submitted four people who suffered severe injury such as quadriplegia, paraplegia, double amputation, brain damage or serious burns were found eligible and eight other claims with less serious injuries were found eligible. Not all of the submitted claims have been reviewed. Feinberg stated that GM had engineers determine the 13 deaths caused by the ignition switch. The 19 claims that are eligible were decided applying a legal standard.

About The Cooper Firm

Lance Cooper founded The Cooper Firm in 2006. With experience in substantial personal injury and wrongful death cases, he has represented plaintiffs in numerous civil jury trials and has successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases and gained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. For more information, visit www.thecooperfirm.com.

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Media Contact:

The Cooper Firm:

Victoria Schneider
(770) 427-5588
(770) 675-6443 direct
victoria@thecooperfirm.com

 

U.S. Judge Appoints Lance Cooper on Executive Committee For GM Ignition-Switch Cases

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PRESS RELEASE - The Cooper Firm Personal Injury Lawyer

News Release

U.S. Judge appoints Lance Cooper On Executive Committee for Gm Ignition-Switch Cases

August 18, 2014

U.S. Judge has appointed an Executive Committee, including Lance Cooper, to help lead the litigation against GM.

MARIETTA, GA – (August 8, 2014) U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in the Southern District of New York announced the Co-Lead Counsel and Executive Committee that will lead the litigation against GM this past Friday. Judge Furman is overseeing more than 100 cases related to the GM ignition switch recall.

Lance Cooper will be serving on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and will be devoting a significant amount of time and resources to working on these cases. Lance Cooper is also the lawyer for Ken and Beth Melton, the parents of Brooke Melton, who was killed in a crash in 2010 due to a defective ignition-switch in her 2005 Cobalt. The Melton’s lawsuit helped to expose the ignition switch issue which eventually led to the initial recall in February of 2014.

“We are grateful that Judge Furman appointed us to the Executive Committee. This position will allow us to build upon the work in Melton in order to uncover the whole truth about GM’s knowledge of these defective switches and their efforts to conceal these defects from our clients and the public,” Cooper stated.

Also on the Executive Committee are David Boies, Melanie L Cyganowski, Adam J. Levitt, Dianne M. Nast, Peter Prieto, Frank M. Pitre, Joseph F. Rice, Mark P. Robinson, Jr., and Marc M. Seltzer. Judge Furman appointed Steve W. Berman, Elizabeth J Cabraser, and Robert C. Hilliard as Co-Lead Counsel. According to Judge Furman’s order, the next Status Conference regarding the cases is set for September 4, 2014.

The ignition switch in the affected vehicles may move from the “run” position to the “off” or “accessory” position, disabling power steering and brakes during operation, also possibly deactivating the airbags. The switch has been linked to at least 13 deaths. GM, who managed to keep the defective part under wraps for nearly a decade, is currently under investigation by U.S. safety regulators, Congress, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

About The Cooper Firm

Lance Cooper founded The Cooper Firm in 2006. With experience in substantial personal injury and wrongful death cases, he has represented plaintiffs in numerous civil jury trials and has successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases and gained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. For more information, visit www.thecooperfirm.com.

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Media Contact:

The Cooper Firm:

Victoria Schneider
(770) 427-5588
(770) 675-6443 direct
victoria@thecooperfirm.com

 

 

Press Release – GM Estimate of Victim Compensation Fund Cost Works Out to $22 Per Car

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PRESS RELEASE - The Cooper Firm Personal Injury Lawyer

Press Release – GM Estimate of Victim Compensation Fund Cost Works Out to $22 Per Car

July 24, 2014

General Motors (GM) tells shareholders its estimated cost for the victims compensation plan for ignition switch defects is $400 million; with 17.5 million affected vehicles, that’s just $22 per car

MONTGOMERY, ALA. (July 24, 2014) – In response to claims of deaths and injuries related to its defective ignition switch, General Motors (GM) established a victim compensation fund, telling the public that it is uncapped. But in a recent financial report to its stockholders, GM says it estimates the fund will cost the company about $400 million. GM has recalled approximately 17.5 million vehicles related to the problem. With the number of vehicles involved, that works out to just $22 per car. But the economic loss to the owners of the recalled cars isn’t even in the fund.

GM has admitted the ignition switch defect is the cause of 13 deaths and 54 crashes, but independent consumer advocates believe the numbers are very much higher. Some experts say more than 300 deaths. Investigations have revealed GM knew about the ignition switch defect for 11 years before disclosing it to safety regulators and the public. Hundreds of people have been killed or seriously injured, never knowing of the link between their GM vehicle and the crash.

“This estimation to pay claims for death and serious, disabling injuries is totally inadequate, and is not consistent with a no-cap compensation fund,” said Beasley Allen Founding Shareholder Jere L. Beasley. “The fund doesn’t even include all of the recalled cars and there have been deaths and injuries involving those cars.”

“The $400 million is an arbitrary number that should not matter if GM has truly given Ken Feinberg complete discretion to make awards,” says Lance Cooper, founder of The Cooper Firm. “If throwing out a firm number is supposed to send Mr. Feinberg a message, then GM is, once again, saying one thing but doing another. Obviously, GM is guessing what it may have to pay under the plan unless they have an understanding with Mr. Feinberg, which I do not believe they have, given Mr. Feinberg’s public representations to date. What is most important is that Mr. Feinberg do the right thing and make full and complete awards for all eligible claims regardless of the ultimate total amount awarded. If he does that, given our understanding of the number of claims, the number will certainly wind up being much higher than $400 million.”

“The estimated cost of the compensation fund seems especially low considering GM is currently trying to get the Bankruptcy Court to enjoin victims from filing claims against ‘Old GM’ related to its defective ignition switch,” Beasley added. “This would force more victims to use the victim compensation fund, shutting them out of the right to trial by jury, thus avoiding punitive damages. GM says Feinberg has full decision-making power over the fund, as to who qualifies and how much they are awarded. Can GM be trusted to live up to that promise, when it misled the Bankruptcy Court, regulators and the public for years, hiding a known defect, and the fact that death and injuries had been caused by the defect?

When GM CEO Mary Barra addressed her employees and the public June 5, she expressed sympathy for victims and their families, saying, “… we are going to do the right thing for the affected parties.” Beasley says that “Apparently, somebody else at GM is calling the shots on the automaker’s litigation strategy. It’s time for GM to quit playing games and come clean about its massive safety problems.”

The ignition switch in these vehicles may move from the “run” position to the “off” or “accessory” position, disabling power steering and brakes during operation, also possibly deactivating the airbags. GM initially recalled about 780,000 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles on Feb. 13. Twelve days later, it expanded the recall to include an additional 590,000 model-year 2003-07 Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky vehicles. That initial recall now encompasses 2.6 million vehicles, and GM admits to 13 deaths related to the defect. In June, GM recalled an additional 3.4 million midsize and large cars for the same ignition switch defect. In July, GM recalled 17 older model (1997-2005) vehicles. GM attributes seven crashes, three deaths and eight injuries to this latest group of recalled vehicles, which it says allows “inadvertent ignition key rotation.” So far, GM has recalled 17.5 million cars this year because of the ignition switch defect. The total number of all safety-related recalls now exceeds 29 million.

About Beasley Allen Law Firm

Headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, Beasley Allen is comprised of more than 75 attorneys and 200 support staff. Beasley Allen is a national leader in civil litigation, with verdicts and settlements in excess of $22 billion. For more information about our firm, please visit our website at www.beasleyallen.com.

About The Cooper Firm

Lance Cooper founded The Cooper Firm in 2006. With experience in substantial personal injury and wrongful death cases, he has represented plaintiffs in numerous civil jury trials and has successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases and gained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. For more information, visit www.thecooperfirm.com.

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Media Contacts:

Beasley Allen:
Wendi Lewis
(334) 495-1308
(334) 221-3595 cell
(800) 898-2034 x169
wendi.lewis@beasleyallen.com
 
The Cooper Firm:
Victoria Schneider
(770) 427-5588
(770) 675-6443 direct
victoria@thecooperfirm.com
 

 

Press Release – GM Evaded Questions About Ignition Switch Safety When Faced With Death Inquiries

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PRESS RELEASE - The Cooper Firm Personal Injury Lawyer

Press Release – GM Evaded Questions About Ignition Switch Safety When Faced With Death Inquiries

Documents reveal General Motors repeatedly avoided answering questions about its defective ignition switch when faced with ‘death inquiries’ from regulators investigating vehicle crashes

MONTGOMERY, ALA. (July 17, 2014) – Today the head of General Motors (GM)’s legal department, Michael P. Millikin, along with GM CEO Mary Barra, testified before the Congressional Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Safety and Insurance in the ongoing evaluation of the company’s handling of a defective ignition switch problem and eventual recall. In its evaluation of its own performance, Barra said her company suffered from a “pattern of incompetence and neglect” but has steadily insisted there was no cover-up or conspiracy to conceal the problem. But an examination of so-called “death inquiries” by federal regulators following crashes involving GM vehicles, it is apparent multiple people at the company repeatedly avoided answering questions about the problem, even with internal knowledge of multiple deaths. Now independent safety experts believe the number is much higher. The possible concealment of critical safety information is at the center of a criminal investigation of GM being conducted by the U.S. Justice Department.

“After watching the presentations today, I am more convinced than ever that General Motors intentionally covered up a known defect that has killed and badly injured hundreds of innocent people,” said Jere L. Beasley, founding shareholder of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. “No reasonable person should believe that only a few engineers and lawyers were responsible for conduct that is as bad as I have seen during my 35 years of handling product liability litigation. If GM operated in the manner described before the Congressional committees, and as found by the so-called independent investigation paid for by GM, then the automaker needs to clean house and bring in new blood – men and women who will do more than talk about bringing about a new safety culture, and truly make safety a reality at the company. “

“Although the Senate hearing today was beneficial, there is still much work to be done,” said Lance Cooper, founder of The Cooper Firm. “It is more important than ever that the Melton case move forward. It is clear from today’s hearing that GM does not want the public to know the whole truth about what all of its employees, including senior management, knew and when they knew it. Only when the Meltons finally have their day in court will we learn the whole story.”

Beasley went on to say, “General Motors is not only guilty of gross negligence that borders on criminal conduct, but it is clearly guilty of fraud in its dealings with the government, the courts and the American people. The documents obtained by The New York Times are more evidence of an internal cover-up by GM. While GM now says that it will do right by the families of the hundreds of victims who were killed and to the victims who were seriously injured, GM must be punished for what it has done over the period of time when it was covering up the known defect. Unfortunately GM still does not fully accept responsibility for its wrongdoing. Its attempts to blame a few individuals for what was company-wide incompetence and wrongful conduct simply does not meet the ‘smell test’ and won’t be accepted by the American people.”

Yesterday, The New York Times exposed the death inquiries, which it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The purpose of those inquiries was to help federal regulators determine possible defects in GM cars involved in fatal crashes. The documents provide evidence of critical failure on the part of GM and on the part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as the regulatory agency, to identify and expose the deadly defect. In at least one instance, according to the Times piece, GM received outside evidence there was a problem with the ignition switch – from a police report – but ignored the information. The Times reports only one person at GM even opened the file, which was then passed along to the NHTSA, which failed to follow up on it.

The ignition switch in these vehicles may move from the “run” position to the “off” or “accessory” position, disabling power steering and brakes during operation, also possibly deactivating the airbags. GM initially recalled about 780,000 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles on Feb. 13. Twelve days later, it expanded the recall to include an additional 590,000 model-year 2003-07 Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky vehicles. That initial recall now encompasses 2.6 million vehicles, and GM admits to 13 deaths related to the defect. In June, GM recalled an additional 3.4 million midsize and large cars for the same ignition switch defect. In July, GM recalled 17 older model (1997-2005) vehicles. GM attributes seven crashes, three deaths and eight injuries to this latest group of recalled vehicles, which it says allows “inadvertent ignition key rotation.” So far, GM has recalled 17.1 million cars this year because of the ignition switch defect.

About The Cooper Firm

Lance Cooper founded The Cooper Firm in 2006. With experience in substantial personal injury and wrongful death cases, he has represented plaintiffs in numerous civil jury trials and has successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases and gained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. For more information, visit www.thecooperfirm.com.

About Beasley Allen Law Firm

Headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, Beasley Allen is comprised of more than 75 attorneys and over 200 support staff. Beasley Allen is a national leader in civil litigation, with verdicts and settlements in excess of $22 billion. For more information about our firm, please visit our website at www.beasleyallen.com.

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Media Contacts:

 
The Cooper Firm:
Victoria Schneider
(770) 427-5588
(770) 675-6443 direct
victoria@thecooperfirm.com
 
Beasley Allen:
Wendi Lewis
(334) 495-1308
(334) 221-3595 cell
(800) 898-2034 x169

wendi.lewis@beasleyallen.com

 

 


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