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

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.

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.

 

# # #

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.

##

Contacts:

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

# # #

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

 

 

Press Release – Beasley will Submit GM Ignition Switch Injury, Death Claims to Compensation Fund

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PRESS RELEASE - The Cooper Firm Personal Injury Lawyer

News Release

Beasley will Submit gm ignition switch injury, death claims to compensation fund

July 10, 2014

After face-to-face meeting with GM Victims Compensation Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg, Beasley Allen founder Jere Beasley says he is willing to give the plan a chance to work

MONTGOMERY, ALA. (July 10, 2014) – After a personal meeting with GM Victims Compensation Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg, Beasley Allen Founding Shareholder Jere L. Beasley says he is willing to give the plan a chance. Beasley, along with Beasley Allen shareholder Cole Portis, who heads of the firm’s Products Liability Section, and Lance Cooper, founder of The Cooper Firm based in Marietta, Ga., met with Feinberg on July 9 in Atlanta.

“I have been somewhat critical of the manner in which General Motors set up the compensation plan to be administered by Ken Feinberg. For example, I believed that General Motors had made the criteria for eligibility much too restrictive and limited.  While I believe the criticism was justified, I agreed to meet with Mr. Feinberg to discuss how the plan would be implemented,” Beasley says. “Lance Cooper, Cole Portis and I met with Mr. Feinberg in Atlanta on Wednesday.  We had a candid discussion covering a broad range of topics relating to the General Motors litigation, including how the plan would work for our clients. We all agreed that the details of our discussion would be confidential. I must say that I was impressed with Mr. Feinberg’s candor and his willingness to listen to our views. While we didn’t agree on everything, I do believe the meeting was productive.

“At the conclusion of the lengthy meeting, we have decided to submit claims, including death claims and those involving personal injury, to the plan.  I believe our clients will receive fair treatment from the Claims Administrator.  Of course there will be clients of ours who will prefer to keep their claims in the courts. We will continue to file lawsuits, but will give the plan a chance to work. If it doesn’t work for our clients we will have the option of going back to the court system.”

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.

# # #

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
 

 

 

Press Release – How Many More Defective GM Cars are Still on the Road?

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PRESS RELEASE - The Cooper Firm Personal Injury Lawyer

News Release

How many more defective gm cars are still on the road?

June 17, 2014

Despite repeated assurances its defective ignition switch problem had been fully addressed, this week General Motors (GM) recalled another 3.16 million vehicles related to the defect

MONTGOMERY, ALA. (June 17, 2014) – Yesterday General Motors (GM) announced the recall of another 3.16 million vehicles related to its defective ignition switch. The latest recall involves midsize and large automobiles from the 2000 to 2014 year models, including Buick Lacrosse, Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac Deville, Cadillac DTS, Buick Lucerne, Buick Regal and Chevy Monte Carlo. Like earlier recalls, 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 says it is aware of eight crashes and six injuries related to this latest recall. Jere Beasley and Lance Cooper, the attorneys representing Ken and Beth Melton, whose daughter died in a Chevy Cobalt crash linked to the defective ignition switch, say this latest batch of recalls simply underscores the fact that GM has not come clean about the extent of its problems. GM is currently on the hot seat with Congressional investigators following its mishandling of a massive recall of 2.6 million vehicles for an ignition switch defect linked to more than 13 deaths. GM CEO Mary Barra is set to testify before Congress tomorrow, following the release of its investigation into the company’s conduct.

“Just how many more defective GM cars are on the road? Can we really trust GM to tell us? It doesn’t seem so.” Beasley says. “This automaker has lots of explaining to do to the American people. The years of deceit and cover-up have taken a toll that is being revealed now on almost a weekly basis. It’s time for GM to come clean and start telling the truth. A good time to start is tomorrow in the Congressional hearing!”

“The new GM recalling more than 3 million additional vehicles due to key system defects is not surprising,” Cooper says. “Once the Melton case revealed GM’s sick corporate culture, it was only a matter of time until these defects in other GM vehicles were uncovered. This most recent recall highlights the importance of the civil justice system in making sure that GM ultimately does the right thing by recalling all of the vehicles that have the key system defects and accepting responsibility for the harm caused by accidents and injuries resulting from these defects.”

Last Friday, GM recalled more than 500,000 Chevrolet Camaros for what it says is a problem with the key fob. The auto giant says the ignition switch in the 2010-2014 year model Camaro can be moved out of the “run” position when the key fob is jostled by the drivers’ knee, causing the car to lose power, including power brakes and steering. GM says the defect is linked to three crashes. A GM spokesman confirmed the air bags did not deploy in the affected vehicles, but says the company is still investigating if the ignition switch defect caused the non-deployment.

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. The total number of recalled vehicles now numbers about 2.6 million related to an ignition switch defect that allows the key to unintentionally slip from the “run” to “off” or “accessory” position while the vehicle is being operated.  The ignition defect causes the sudden loss of engine power, braking and steering, creating a hazardous emergency situation. The air bag system is also disabled and rendered useless.

Beasley Allen and The Cooper Firm have filed lawsuits related to the ignition switch defect. Lance Cooper, founder of The Cooper Firm, is the lawyer who first discovered GM’s ignition switch defect and uncovered the automaker’s cover-up, which finally led to massive recalls. Court documents and other evidence reveal that GM knew about the ignition switch problem as early as 2001. However, GM rejected several design changes and solutions that were recommended by its own engineers on numerous occasions because of the cost and the time it would take to make the changes.

About Beasley Allen Law Firm

Headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, 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.

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.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Beasley Allen:
Helen Taylor
(334) 495-1169
(334) 201-2311 cell
(800) 898-2034 x169
helen.taylor@beasleyallen.com
 
The Cooper Firm:
Victoria Schneider
(770) 427-5588
(770) 675-6443 direct
victoria@thecooperfirm.com

Press Release – GM attempting to move Melton case to federal court in stalling effort

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PRESS RELEASE - The Cooper Firm Personal Injury Lawyer

News Release

GM attempting to move Melton case to federal court in stalling effort

June 12, 2014

General Motors (GM) demonstrates it says one thing and does another in treatment of victims of its faulty ignition switch by seeking to move Melton case behind bankruptcy firewall

TCF_logoplaceholderMONTGOMERY, ALA. (June 12, 2014) – In an incredible revelation of its true character, General Motors (GM) is trying to move the Melton v. General Motors lawsuit behind the protection of its “old GM” bankruptcy firewall instead of living up to the promise by its CEO to do the right thing by victims of its long-withheld ignition switch defect, which it now admits is linked to more than 13 deaths. Ken and Beth Melton, parents of 29-year-old Brooke Melton, who was killed in a 2010 crash linked to the ignition switch defect, refiled their wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their daughter on May 12. Rather than leaving the civil liability lawsuit in the State Court in Cobb County, Ga., where it was filed, GM is now attempting to remove the case to federal court and then to the multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New York federal court.

“We are on track in state court to move forward with getting answers to the lies told by GM in the Melton case,” said Beasley Allen Founding Shareholder Jere Beasley. GM wants to delay for months on end by trying to move the case to federal court. GM did not remove the case when it was initially filed a few years ago. This latest move is blatant evidence that GM is again lying – lying to Congress, lying to NHTSA, to the public and, most importantly, lying to victims’ families. They have been telling everyone that GM will do the right thing and now in the Melton case, GM is trying to move the case from Georgia to New York. We will oppose this wrongful removal.”

“In today’s federal court filings, not only did GM wrongfully remove the Melton’s case from Cobb County, GM accuses the Meltons of fraudulent conduct in re-filing the lawsuit in Cobb County,” added Lance Cooper, founder of The Cooper Firm. “It is, no doubt, ironic that in its first court filing after Ms. Barra’s press conference – during which she promised GM would do the right thing – GM and its lawyers accuse a victim’s family of fraud when that family is simply asking that they have an opportunity to have their day in court.”

When GM CEO Mary Barra addressed her employees and the public last week, she expressed sympathy for victims and their families, saying, “I realize there are no words of mine that can ease their grief and pain. But as I lead GM through this crisis, I want everyone to know that I am guided by two clear principles: First that we do the right thing for those who were harmed; and, second, that we accept responsibility for our mistakes and commit to doing everything within our power to prevent this problem from ever happening again.” Later in her speech, she said again, “… we are going to do the right thing for the affected parties.”

“It would appear that once again GM’s actions speak louder than its words,” Beasley said. “I don’t trust GM to do the right thing and this latest ploy is direct proof.”

GM 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. The total number of recalled vehicles now numbers about 2.6 million related to an ignition switch defect that allows the key to unintentionally slip from the “run” to “off” or “accessory” position while the vehicle is being operated.  The ignition defect causes the sudden loss of engine power, braking and steering, creating a hazardous emergency situation. The air bag system is also disabled and rendered useless.

Court documents and other evidence reveal that GM knew about the ignition switch problem as early as 2001. However, GM rejected several design changes and solutions that were recommended by its own engineers on numerous occasions because of the cost and the time it would take to make the changes. Its collective willingness to ignore problems is one of the reasons why GM failed to adhere to federal regulations and recall its ignition switches despite years of incident complaints, crash reports, failed engineering tests, and repeated warnings from a GM lawyer that the company “could be accused of egregious conduct” in lawsuits involving failed airbags in Chevy Cobalts and other small cars.

Beasley Allen and The Cooper Firm have filed lawsuits related to the ignition switch defect. Lance Cooper, founder of The Cooper Firm, is the lawyer who first discovered GM’s ignition switch defect and uncovered the automaker’s cover-up, which finally led to massive recalls.

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 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.

# # #

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) 201-2311 cell
(800) 898-2034 x169
helen.taylor@beasleyallen.com
 
 

Press Release – The Cooper Firm, Beasley Allen react to GM evaluation of ignition switch recall

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PRESS RELEASE - The Cooper Firm Personal Injury Lawyer

News Release

The Cooper Firm, Beasley Allen react to GM evaluation of ignition switch recall

June 5, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra blamed ignition switch failure and recall delay linked to serious injuries and deaths on “pattern of incompetence and neglect at the company

TCF_logoplaceholderMONTGOMERY, ALA. (June 5, 2014) – General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra shared the findings of an internal investigation into the company’s handling of an ignition switch defect that it admits is linked to at least 13 deaths and 31 crashes. She called the report “extremely thorough, brutally tough and deeply troubling.” She said the report found no conspiracy by the corporation to cover up facts, but blamed the problem on a “pattern of incompetence and neglect.”  She said, “The ignition switch issue was touched by numerous parties at GM – investigators, engineers, and lawyers – but no one raised the issues to the highest levels of the company. Overall, the report concludes that from start to finish, the Cobalt saga was riddled with failure, which led to tragic results for many.”

Jere Beasley, the founding shareholder at Beasley Allen, stated, “I find it virtually impossible to believe that top officials at GM didn’t know about the defect and were unaware of the failure to report the problem to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If GM operated in the manner described over a full decade, then there are many more safety problems out there today. Hopefully the safety culture at GM will change now and safety will become a top priority at the top levels of the company.

Lance Cooper, founder of The Cooper Firm, added, “Although Mary Barra’s remarks provide additional information about the investigation, there is still much work to be done. Ms. Barra denies that there is any evidence that GM employees made a trade-off between safety and cost. Documents produced in the Melton case, as well as the testimony of the GM employees, clearly show that GM chose not to fix the safety defects in these vehicles for cost reasons. This is why it is critical that the civil cases move forward so that the American public may learn the whole truth, not just the truth GM chooses to disclose.”

As a result of the report, Barra said 15 individuals were fired and disciplinary action was taken against five other people. She said these actions were taken against people who were determined to have acted inappropriately, committed misconduct or were incompetent. Barra said, “Experienced engineers with the responsibility for safety did not understand that the airbags would not deploy if the ignition switch changed into the off position.” She said the investigation included more than 350 interviews with 230 individuals and review of more than 41 million documents and expects the full report to be available on the NHTSA website.

Lance Cooper is the lawyer who first discovered GM’s ignition switch defect and uncovered the automaker’s cover-up, which finally led to massive recalls. The two firms have a history of being highly successful in product liability litigation. Beasley Allen was heavily involved in the Toyota sudden acceleration litigation and tried the lawsuit in Oklahoma that caused the Japanese automaker to change its litigation strategy and start settling cases. The two firms will represent victims in cases involving personal injury or death caused by the ignition switch defect.

Beasley Allen and The Cooper Firm have filed lawsuits related to the ignition switch defect that allows the key to unintentionally slip from the “run” to “off” or “accessory” position while the vehicle is being operated.  The ignition defect causes the sudden loss of engine power, braking and steering, creating a hazardous emergency situation. The air bag system is also disabled and rendered useless.

GM 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. The total number of recalled vehicles now numbers about 2.6 million related to the defect. Court documents and other evidence reveal that GM knew about the ignition switch problem as early as 2001. However, GM rejected several design changes and solutions that were recommended by its own engineers on numerous occasions because of the cost and the time it would take to make the changes.

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 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.

# # #

Media Contact:

Victoria Schneider
770-427-5588
Victoria@thecooperfirm.com
 
Helen Taylor
(334) 495-1169
(334) 201-2311 cell
(800) 898-2034 x169
helen.taylor@beasleyallen.com

Press Release – GM fine for failure to timely disclose ignition switch defect only a first step

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PRESS RELEASE - The Cooper Firm Personal Injury Lawyer

News Release

GM fine for failure to timely disclose ignition switch defect only a first step

May 16, 2014

Lawyers representing victims permanently injured or killed in wrecks related to General Motors faulty ignition switch say federal fine doesn’t begin to compensate for delays, cover-up related to recalls

TCF_logoplaceholderMONTGOMERY, ALA. (May 16, 2014) – Jere L. Beasley, founding shareholder of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., and Lance Cooper, trial lawyer and founding partner of The Cooper Firm in Marietta, Ga., say today’s announcement by the government that General Motors (GM) will pay a fine of $35 million for its mishandling of a recall related to a defective ignition switch is only a tiny first step on the road to justice for victims. The announcement was made at 11:15 E.T. by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Acting Administrator David Friedman.

“There is much more to learn about GM’s massive cover up,” Beasley says. “This settlement may be a little premature. It will take the civil justice system to make sure that all the victims are compensated fully. The criminal investigation of GM’s wrongdoing must continue and those responsible for committing the intentional wrongs must be held accountable. It’s time for individuals to face jail time for intentional massive cover-ups of known safety defects.”

“It comes as no surprise that GM agreed to the terms of Consent Order with NHTSA, including civil penalty,” Cooper adds. “Although it won’t, the entire amount GM eventually pays as the penalty should go to the Office of Defects Investigation to enhance NHTSA’s ability to investigate potential defects. Ultimately, the only way that GM will ever be held fully accountable will be for the civil justice system to shine a light on GM’s reprehensible conduct. The federal government cannot replace the civil justice system as a means of getting at the whole truth. We look forward to representing our clients who were harmed by the safety related defects in GM vehicles. We will leave no stone unturned in getting answers to all of their questions and ultimately obtaining a full measure of justice for them.”

The $35 million penalty is the maximum penalty that could be levied against the automaker under the law, and it is the highest civil penalty ever paid to NHTSA stemming from an investigation into a recall, Secretary Foxx said. He also said he will send the Grow America Act to Capitol Hill asking that the penalty for these types of violations be raised from $35 million to $300 million. “What we will never accept is a person or company that knows danger exists and says nothing. Literally silence can kill,” Foxx said. “In the meantime, their customers were driving cars with a dangerous safety defect. Crashes happened and people died.”

Foxx said the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) role in the civil investigation was concluded, from a timeliness standpoint, and he could not comment on what consideration the Department of Justice (DOJ) might give to bringing a criminal investigation in the case. However, he said the DOT would comply with any information the DOJ might require in such an investigation.

Automakers are required by law to alert the NHTSA of safety concerns or product defects they find within five days. Friedman said the investigation into when GM knew about the ignition switch defect and when they reported it was “deeply disturbing,” and included every level of GM staff from engineers to investigators, attorneys and executives. The fact that GM waited so long to recall the affected vehicles illustrates that “Something was very wrong with the company’s values,” Friedman said.

GM recalled about 780,000 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles on Feb. 13 for an ignition switch defect that can allow the key to move from the “run” to the “accessory” or “off” position during vehicle operation. This disables power steering, brakes, airbags and other safety systems. 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. It was later expanded again to include model-year 2006-2011 Chevy HHRs. The recall now encompasses 2.6 million vehicles.

Court documents and other evidence reveal that GM knew about the ignition switch problem as early as 2001. However, GM rejected several design changes and solutions that were recommended by its own engineers on numerous occasions because of the cost and the time it would take to make the changes. In particular, during the previous lawsuit, GM consistently denied that any employee authorized, or even knew of, any design change in Cobalt ignition switches.  Ray DeGiorgio, the lead design engineer for Cobalt ignition switches, repeatedly testified that he did not authorize or know of any such changes.  GM affirmed Mr. DeGiorgio’s testimony in subsequent responses. According to GM’s recent disclosures, Mr. DeGiorgio not only knew of, but authorized, the change in the design of Cobalt ignition switches.

Beasley Allen recently announced it is working with Lance Cooper and The Cooper Firm, based in Atlanta, Ga., to handle product liability claims against GM. Lance Cooper is the lawyer who discovered the automaker’s faulty ignition switch and subsequent cover-up while working on a wrongful death lawsuit in 2011. On May 9, Cooper announced the plaintiffs in that lawsuit, Ken and Beth Melton, whose daughter Brooke was killed when her Chevy Cobalt crashed due to the ignition switch defect, are asking a judge to rescind their settlement agreement and have refiled a wrongful death and fraud complaint against GM.

GM says it has linked 31 crashes and 13 deaths to the faulty ignition switch, but an independent study commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety indicates the death toll exceeds 300. It’s very likely that the total number of deaths will exceed that number.

Read the GM Consent Order

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 about our firm, please visit www.thecooperfirm.com.

About Beasley Allen Law Firm

Headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, 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.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Victoria Schneider
(770) 427-5588
Victoria@thecooperfirm.com
 
Helen Taylor
(334) 495-1169
(334) 201-2311 cell
(800) 898-2034 x169
helen.taylor@beasleyallen.com

Press Release – Melton Family Refiles Lawsuit Against GM

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News Release

Melton Family Refiles Lawsuit Against GM

May 12, 2014

TCF_logoplaceholderATLANTA, GEORGIA (May 12, 2014) Ken and Beth Melton, parents of a 29-year-old Georgia woman who died in a 2010 crash linked to an ignition switch defect, have re-filed their claims against General Motors, alleging that the automaker fraudulently concealed critical evidence and allowed its corporate representative to commit perjury.  The Meltons have also asked the court to sanction GM for its discovery abuses and the spoliation of evidence.

The civil liability lawsuit, filed in the State Court of Cobb County, Georgia, by attorneys Lance Cooper and Jere Beasley, alleges that GM fraudulently denied that any employee authorized, or even knew of, any design change in Cobalt ignition switches. Specifically, Ray DeGiorgio, the lead design engineer for Cobalt ignition switches, repeatedly testified that he did not authorize or know of any such changes. The company later affirmed his responses. GM’s recent disclosures to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and to Congress have revealed that those assertions were false.

“The Meltons would not have settled their case if they had known of the perjury and concealment of critical evidence,” said Lance Cooper, of the Cooper firm in Marietta, Ga., who represented the Meltons.  “It is now apparent that GM’s plan was to resolve the Meltons’ claims before disclosing the Cobalt ignition switch design changes.” Ken and Beth Melton understand the significance of their decision to refile their lawsuit against GM.  “We thought long and hard about this decision.  Ultimately, we decided that GM should not be allowed to get away with what they did in the previous lawsuit.”

Brooke Melton died March 10, 2010, when the ignition module of her 2005 Cobalt slipped into the accessory position as she drove along Highway 92 in Paulding County, Ga. Melton’s Cobalt skidded into another vehicle, and Melton died of her injuries in the crash.  The incident was initially attributed to Melton losing control of her car on a rainy night.  An investigation showed that Melton’s vehicle was actually equipped with a defective ignition module that would travel out of the run position. These shifts occur while the vehicle is underway, creating an emergency situation that incidentally turns off the airbags at the same time it is cutting off the engine power, anti-lock brakes and power steering.

The Melton family sought Cooper’s counsel after facing a legal claim from the driver in the other vehicle. During discovery, GM produced documents showing that GM engineers discovered the ignition switch problem during the Cobalt’s production stage, but took the vehicle to market without remedying the problem. Instead, GM issued Technical Service Bulletins. The fix– an ignition key cover that changed the design from a slot to a key hole — did not solve the problem.

Last September, the Meltons settled their claims against GM. In late January, GM reported the defect to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and announced a recall of 2005-2007 Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles. The Meltons, however, requested that NHTSA open a recall Timeliness Query, charging that GM had long known about the defect, and that the recall did not cover all of the affected vehicles.  GM eventually widened the recall, and the agency has opened a TQ. But, the case has touched off a national controversy over GM’s handling of the problem and NHTSA’s response. Both have been the subject of Congressional hearings; both have helped form the basis for proposed amendments strengthening NHTSA’s enforcement powers and civil penalties in the Grow America Act, the new transportation bill.

On April 11, the Meltons asked GM to rescind the original settlement, but the company refused.   GM’s attorney, Robert Ellis, responded: “As an initial matter, General Motors LLC (“GM”) denies the assertion that GM fraudulently concealed relevant and critical facts in connection with the Melton matter.  And GM denies it engaged in any improper behavior in that action.

“The response by GM and its lawyers validates our decision,” Ken and Beth said.  “We are hopeful that this new lawsuit will uncover who at GM knew about the design change and why Brooke was never told.”

“Our law firm is honored to be asked by Lance Cooper and the Melton family to assist them in the refiling and trial of the lawsuit against General Motors.” Beasley Allen Founding Shareholder, Jere Beasley said.  “This company has betrayed the American people and must be held accountable for their wanton conduct in the cover-up for over 10 years of a known defect. The Melton family is very brave and courageous in their desire to make sure that the public learns how truly bad GM’s conduct was and how the automaker fraudulently dealt with the initial lawsuit they filed over the tragic death of their daughter. Lying under oath and committing perjury is about as low as it gets and GM must not be allowed to get away with this sort of conduct.”

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 about our firm, please visit www.thecooperfirm.com.

About Beasley Allen Law Firm

Headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, 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.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Victoria Schneider
(770) 427-5588
Victoria@thecooperfirm.com
 
Helen Taylor
(334) 495-1169
(334) 201-2311 cell
(800) 898-2034 x169
helen.taylor@beasleyallen.com

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