GM Ignition Switch Trial: Week One Updates

NEW YORK – Starting Jan. 11, 2016, General Motors faced the first of six 'bellwether' trials regarding the widespread, deadly ignition switch defect that has led to more than 100 fatalities and hundreds of injuries. Attorneys for plaintiffs, Hagens Berman managing partner, Steve Berman, and Bob Hilliard of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales LLP are leading the GM ignition switch bellwether trial, which will provide a template for GM litigation and settlement on remaining cases.

The safety defect involves the car’s ignition, which according to consumers, can switch off while in operation, disabling airbags and other electrical and safety features such as power steering and power brakes. According to published reports and government documents, GM had knowledge of the serious defect as early as 2001, but critics charge that the company ignored warnings of the defect’s severity and did not warn consumers.

During the first week, a former GM employee and airbag expert who helped design the airbags involved in the accident in question, testified that the crash event in the case should have caused the airbags he designed to deploy. The plaintiffs allege that the ignition switch defect is the cause of non-deployment of the airbags.

Engineer, Mark Hood, demonstrated for the jury how he discovered the torque defect in GM's Chevy Cobalt and how he also discovered the secret part switch that partially fixed the problem. Hood testified that making changes to parts without changing the part number violated industry manufacturing practices.

On Jan. 15, 2016, during Friday's court session, under question from Steve Berman, Dr. Glen Stevick testified that GM’s failure to conduct a top-down failure modes and effects (FMEA) analysis was an egregious violation of acceptable engineering standards. Using GM’s one FMEA reference manual, Dr. Stevick testified that GM was stuck in silos, and no team looked at the system-wide impacts of the defective ignition switch. Based on his testing, Dr. Stevick testified that there is a 97 percent chance Cobalt drivers would have a switch that was defective.

# # #

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 Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.


Media Contact
Ashley Klann
[email protected]


Hagens Berman purchases advertisements on search engines, social media sites and other websites. Transmission of the information contained or available through this website is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you seek legal advice or representation by Hagens Berman, you must first enter a formal agreement. All information contained in any transmission is confidential and Hagens Berman agrees to protect information against unauthorized use, publication or disclosure. This site is regulated by the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct.