US: plaintiffs say racketeering charge should be triggered against General Motors image

General Motors is being sued by numerous plaintiffs over the incredible series of safety related recalls that were triggered by the ignition switch scandal last year and are now accusing the automaker of racketeering.

The plaintiffs have accused the largest US automaker and the third largest in the world of collaborating with a law firm and claims-management company to be able to hide the ignition-switch defect that has so far been tied to 114 fatalities. Last year, in February, the company initiated a recall of 2.6 million older autos because they were equipped with flawed ignition switches that could shut down the engine and cut power to crucial safety systems, including the airbags. The company then went on to recall millions of other cars in safety-related campaigns and acknowledged it had known about the defect for more than a decade – though it didn’t malevolently hide it, blaming it on a culture of incompetence. Now the new allegations have been introduced in an amended complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, where more than 200 lawsuits have been consolidated against the company for injuries, deaths and economic losses stemming from the string of recalls and safety issues. The lawsuit is said to be on behalf of at least 20 million vehicle owners and has asked for at least $10 billion in damages, said plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The lawsuit seeks to certify a class that houses anyone owning or leasing a GM auto since the company exited bankruptcy restructuring in 2009 – up to 2014, when the recalls were issued. The complaint has also been modified to skip the claims related to the pre-bankruptcy GM, ruled out by a bankruptcy judge in April.

Via Reuters