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GM’s Faulty Ignition Switch Recall Gets Oversight from Federal Judge in Detroit

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To make an ongoing faulty ignition case easier to handle, a federal judge in Detroit has ordered GM and some of its affiliates to preserve any documents related to the company’s ignition switch recall.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker was asked by the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System — the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, which concerns the delayed recall of 2.6 million vehicles — to have GM’s affiliates hold onto these relevant documents. The pension fund, which is worth $108 billion in assets and covers 426,000 employees and retirees, claims that the faulty ignition switches have caused pensioners a “loss to the value of their investments.”

Named by Parker and the pension fund were GM’s longtime auditor Deloitte and Touche; a former supplier of the ignition switch, Delphi Corp.; two lead underwriters for GM, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Morgan Stanley and Co.; rental car companies that used GM vehicles; and eight Wall Street analysts.

So far, none of the firms have been asked to turn over any documents.

As of April 13, the number of deaths thought to be related to the faulty ignitions in certain General Motors vehicles has risen to 84 total.

In the past week alone, the number of eligible death claims climbed by four people, according to lawyers from GM’s compensation fund. The fund is operated by Washington, D.C., attorneys Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros.

Individuals who have participated in the compensation fund, which stopped accepting claims on January 31, can take payouts for the recalls, but by doing so they waive their rights to sue GM.

The number of confirmed injury claims rose from 148 to 157 in the past week, as well. Of the 4,342 total claims made against GM, there are just 1,136 left under review, down from 1,246 last week.

Road crashes in the United States can cost around $230.6 billion per year (or an average of $820 per person). For the car companies that foot the bill for the repairs, the cost can reach into the billions for one simple defect.

GM began recalling vehicles last year for faulty ignition switches, with 2.6 million vehicles eligible for the most recent recall. In total, GM has recalled about 30 million vehicles for a number of safety issues.

Last year, GM became aware of a steering problem with its vehicles, resulting in at least 50 claims to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and thousands of fixes. The repair was made through a simple software update.

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