First wrongful death ignition switch lawsuit gets 2016 date image

The first wrongful death suit against General Motors stemming from the well-known defective ignition switch debacle has been given a January 11, 2016 trial date by a US federal judge.

According to a filing in federal court in Manhattan, the US Judge Jesse Furman for the Southern District of New York has set the date after a hearing was completed on Thursday. In the case, 15 plaintiffs are asking the No. 1 US automaker for compensation for fatalities in accidents linked to the ignition switch. Back in February, the automaker issued a recall that would encompass 2.6 million cars equipped with defective ignition switches that could trigger an engine shutdown – leading to a potentially catastrophic loss of power to critical safety equipments, including the airbags.

Besides this particular lawsuit, there are other trials proceeding separately in other federal and state courts and putting the date by more than a year from now gives time to plaintiffs and GM to negotiate settlements. On the same matter, GM has asked disaster compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg to lead a victims’ fund that would consider claims and offer off-court settlements for those who show evidence that the faulty ignition switches were the leading cause of death or injury. So far, the office of the attorney – who was given full oversight of the program – has offered settlements to 31 families who had loved ones die in crashes or to surviving, injured people.