Attorneys Steve Berman, Bob Hilliard and Elizabeth Cabraser, co-lead counsel in the high-profile, class-action lawsuit against General Motors Co (NYSE: GM) today responded to the $900 million fines levied against the automaker and GM’s admission to concealing a defect that it was required by law to report under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
“GM admitted today what we’ve known all along – that through years of secrecy and internal whitewashing, it acted in a broad scheme to cover up this deadly defect, and fines were levied,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Seattle-based Hagens Berman. “While we do support the fines levied against GM for its misconduct, we believe that the nationwide class of consumers who have suffered tremendous loss of vehicle value deserve further retribution.”
The lawsuit brought by GM vehicle owners against the automaker covers claims resulting from personal injuries and diminished vehicle value related to GM’s recall of millions of vehicles over faulty ignition switches and other possible defects that have currently been linked to 124 fatalities and hundreds of crashes.
“To have the single most egregious and successful cover up in the history of this country result in such a gentle slap on the wrist through the payment of these pennies in a fountain, does not bode well for tomorrow’s victim of the next auto defect,” said Bob Hilliard of Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales LLP. “Without a change in the law, there simply will be no deterrent for car companies that decide to cut corners and kill customers.”
Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP added, “We commend GM’s admission in the face of federal criminal prosecution. It is a start – and GM has more to prove to its loyal customers, and to the motoring public endangered for years by millions of dangerously defective GM vehicles. Action to complete recalls, restore driver safety and confidence, and make damaged customers whole will speak even more loudly than this week’s admission.”
“This punishment only addresses one side of GM’s widespread, criminal actions that continue to worsen the automakers’ crumbling brand,” Berman said. “GM’s repeated recalls, concealment and total disregard left consumers emptyhanded. GM will try to say this is enough, but we know that the vehicle owners across the nation left with death-trap automobiles don’t agree.”
Berman was appointed co-lead counsel representing Toyota owners, and in 2013 negotiated a $1.6 billion settlement on behalf of consumers who owned or leased Toyota vehicles implicated in a rash of cases of unintended acceleration.
Hilliard added, “Toyota paid more but was guilty of less. Hundreds of deaths resulted from GM’s conduct and yet they simply write a check and go home. This is a remarkably jaw-dropping and incredibly sad result.”
Hagens Berman’s most recent lawsuit against GM states that the automaker has covered-up additional fatalities caused by its defective vehicles by excluding 10 million vehicles from its compensation fund. According to the complaint, GM is only addressing some victims affected by the ignition switch defect.
About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with offices in nine cities. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List eight times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.
Hilliard Muñoz and Gonzales LLP (HMG) specializes in mass torts, personal injury, product liability, commercial and business litigation, and wrongful death. HMG has been successfully representing clients in the United States and Mexico since 1986. Bob Hilliard obtained the Largest Verdict in the country in 2012 and the #1 verdict in Texas in 2013. More about the firm can be found at www.hmglawfirm.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @hmglawfirmcc.
About Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, is a 60 attorney firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Nashville. Recognized as “one of the nation’s premier plaintiffs’ firms” by The American Lawyer, Lieff Cabraser is committed to achieving justice for investors, consumers, employees, patients, and business owners; promoting safer products and fair competition; protecting our environment; assisting individuals blow the whistle on fraud; safeguarding the rights of patent and copyright holders; ensuring our right to privacy is preserved; and upholding the civil rights of citizens worldwide. U.S. News and Best Lawyers selected Lieff Cabraser as their 2015 “Law Firm of the Year” for representing plaintiffs in class actions and mass torts. Visit Lieff Cabraser online at lieffcabraser.com and follow firm news and updates at @lieffcabraser.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
Hilliard Muñoz and Gonzales LLP