DCCA NEWS RELEASE: Office of Consumer Protection announces $1.2 million settlement with General Motors Company over defective ignition switch

Posted on Oct 19, 2017 in Latest News

HONOLULU – Stephen Levins, executive director of the State of Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection announced today that Hawaii will receive approximately $1.2 million as part of a $120 million nationwide settlement with General Motors Company (“GM”) over allegations GM concealed safety issues related to ignition-switch-related defects in GM vehicles.

The settlement, reached between 49 states and the District of Columbia and GM, concludes a multistate investigation into the auto manufacturer’s failure to timely disclose known safety defects associated with unintended key-rotation-related and/or ignition-switch-related issues in several models and model years of GM vehicles.

“GM’s initial response to the safety concerns associated with the ignition switch defect was frankly disgraceful. Instead of proactively addressing a serious safety issue, its employees irresponsibly delayed a recall process that jeopardized the safety of its consumers,” said Levins.

In 2014, GM issued seven vehicle recalls in response to unintended key-rotation-related and/or ignition-switch-related issues, which have affected over 9 million vehicles in the U.S. The recalls involved a defective ignition switch which, under certain conditions, could move out of the “Run” position to the “Accessory” or “Off” position. If this occurs, the driver experiences a loss of electrical systems, including power steering and power brakes.  If a collision occurs while the ignition switch is in the “Accessory” or “Off” position, the vehicle’s safety airbags may also fail to deploy, increasing the risk of serious injury or death in certain types of crashes in which the airbag was otherwise designed to deploy.

As the states alleged, certain employees of GM and General Motors Corporation (which went through bankruptcy in 2009), knew as early as 2004 that the ignition switch posed a safety defect because it could cause airbag non-deployment. However, despite this knowledge, GM personnel decided it wasn’t a safety concern and delayed making recalls. GM continued to market the reliability and safety of its motor vehicles which were equipped with this defective ignition switch.

The states alleged that these actions were unfair and deceptive and that the automaker’s actions violated state consumer protection laws, including Hawaii’s unfair and deceptive trade practices statute.

Under a consent judgment, which will be presented to the First Circuit Court of the State of Hawaii, GM shall:

  • Not represent that a motor vehicle is “safe” unless they have complied with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards applicable to the motor vehicle at issue.
  • Not represent that certified pre-owned vehicles that GM advertises are safe, have been repaired for safety issues, or have been subject to rigorous inspection, unless such vehicles are not subject to any open recalls relating to safety or have been repaired pursuant to such a recall.
  • Instruct its dealers that all applicable recall repairs must be completed before any GM motor vehicle sold in the U.S. and included in a recall is eligible for certification and, if there is a recall on any certified pre-owned vehicle sold in the U.S., the required repair must be completed before the vehicle is delivered to a customer.

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Media Contact:

William Nhieu

Communications Officer

Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs

Email:  wnhieu@dcca.hawaii.gov

Phone: (808) 586-7582

Cell:    (808) 389-2788