CHARLESTON, WV - West Virginia is one of 49 U.S. states receiving part of a $120 million settlement with General Motors over vehicle ignition safety defects the automaker allegedly hid for years.
The settlement, reached by the attorneys general of 49 states and the District of Columbia, concludes a multistate investigation into the auto manufacturer’s failure to timely disclose known safety defects. The allegations involved unintended issues with key rotation and/or ignition switches in several GM models over multiple years.
West Virginia’s share of the settlement is approximately $1.27 million.
“West Virginia drivers should not have to worry about faulty equipment putting their lives at risk while on the road,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “This settlement is a victory for consumers and represents the diligent work of our office.”
In 2014, GM issued seven vehicle recalls in response to unintended ignition related issues, which could move the vehicle out of the “Run” position and into “Accessory” or “Off.” Drivers could experience a number of electrical issues, including loss of power steering and power brakes and the failure of airbags to deploy in a crash.
The states allege that certain GM employees knew as early as 2004 that the ignition switch posed a safety threat because of airbag non-deployment. However, GM personnel decided it was not a safety concern and delayed recalls, continuing to market the reliability and safety of motor vehicles equipped with the defective ignition switch.
The states alleged that these actions were unfair and deceptive and that the automaker’s actions violated state laws, including West Virginia’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act.
The settlement prohibits GM from claiming a motor vehicle is safe unless it complies with the applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards. GM also must instruct dealers that all applicable recall repairs must be completed before any GM vehicle is sold or returned to a customer.
West Virginia joined the settlement led by Ohio, South Carolina, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.
Others participating are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.