General Motors is in damage control mode for two reasons -- to repair a reputation tarnished by the recall of millions of cars, and to prevent as much financial damage as possible.
The automaker has filed a motion in U.S. bankruptcy court to set a limit on the number of lawsuits filed against the company in relation to the recall of 2.8 million vehicles and 13 subsequent deaths caused by faulty ignition systems.
The faulty ignition switches, if bumped, potentially also turn off airbag deployment systems. A review commissioned by consumer watchdog the Center for Auto Safety said there were 303 crash fatalities in which airbags did not inflate properly within two of the recalled car models -- the 2003–2007 Saturn Ion and the 2005–2007 Chevrolet Cobalt. GM says far fewer deaths were caused by the fault in the cars.
The lawsuits GM seeks to stop relate to cars sold before its 2009 bankruptcy, arguing that once it emerged from bankruptcy protection, the firm became a different legal entity.
However, plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the automaker have filed a motion to prevent GM from using its previous bankrupt status to shield it from lawsuits.
In a filing, GM stated:
"General Motors has taken responsibility for its actions and will keep doing so. GM has also acknowledged that it has civic and legal obligations relating to injuries that may relate to recalled vehicles, and it has retained Kenneth Feinberg to advise the company what options may be available to deal with those obligations."
The newly-appointed CEO of General Motors Mary Barra apologised to consumers earlier this month for the recall.
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Image credit: GM