Georgia family refiles lawsuit against GM after congressional testimony

Unusual legal move follows settlement that was reached in September

The family of a woman who was killed in a 2010 car crash linked to defective automotive parts has re-filed their lawsuit against carmaker General Motors, according to USA Today. The move is unusual as the family had settled their lawsuit with GM in September. Recent congressional testimony, however, led to the renewed legal action.

Family claims GM lied

The family had settled their lawsuit with GM for an undisclosed amount. That lawsuit, according to the Claims Journal, helped to set off GM's massive recall of 2.59 million vehicles. However, during recent congressional testimony GM CEO Mary Barra admitted that a GM engineer in the original lawsuit may have lied in his deposition.

The admission prompted the family to reconsider the terms of its settlement with GM. The lawyers for the family claimed that if his client had known about GM's previously concealed admission beforehand they would never have agreed to the settlement. Last month, the family's lawyers asked GM to rescind the settlement, but GM refused to do so.

The family's daughter was killed in 2010 when her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt crashed after the ignition apparently shifted out of "run," causing the engine, power steering, and brake assist to shut off.

Re-filing after settlement unusual

This legal move is highly unusual, although not entirely unprecedented. According to USA Today, the family will have to show that some element of fraud was involved during the initial lawsuit. The burden of proof in such cases is typically very high.

The GM engineer had said under oath last year that he had no knowledge of any change to the ignition switch design. The truthfulness of that statement, however, was called into question following GM CEO Barra's congressional testimony.

If the lawsuit is reopened it could lead to a jury awarding more punitive damages to the family. GM has denied that it fraudulently concealed evidence in the case.

Product liability

As the massive GM recall and this latest legal development shows, defective products can have extremely grave consequences for victims and their families. Especially in the case of defective automotive parts, the lives of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians can be put in danger.

Anybody who has been the victim of a defective product should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Such a lawyer can help victims and their families hold negligent manufacturers and other at-fault parties responsible for their actions. With proper legal advice, clients will be able to have some idea of whether compensation against any negligent parties can be pursued.