A Texas judge recently cleared the negligent homicide conviction of Candice Anderson. In 2004, Anderson’s Saturn Ion inexplicably veered off the road and struck a tree, resulting in the death of car passenger Gene Mikale Erickson, who was Anderson’s boyfriend. She pleaded guilty to criminal negligent homicide in 2007. Police originally concluded that Anderson caused the accident due to intoxication, but now more than 10 years after the accident, Anderson has learned that her Saturn Ion had an ignition switch defect that can cause loss of power.
Anderson’s Saturn Ion was one of the millions of General Motors vehicles equipped with this product defect. The failed ignition switch causes a loss of power, which subsequently disables the vehicle’s power brakes, power steering and airbags. Thus far, 38 deaths have been linked to the defect.
Prior to Anderson’s guilty plea, G.M. had conducted a comprehensive review of the crash and determined it was “unusual” because the airbags did not deploy. The company failed to notify Anderson or local law enforcement of its findings. The district attorney that prosecuted Anderson stated that if the information regarding the defective Saturn Ion had been shared with her office, the grand jury would likely have not indicted Anderson on this case.
Beyond the Saturn Ion, General Motors has publicly acknowledged its awareness of the problematic ignition switches in other vehicles, including but not limited to, the 2010-14 Chevy Camaro, 2005-07 Chevy Cobalts, 2006-07 Chevy HHRs, 2003-14 Cadillac CTS, 2005-06 Pontiac G4s, 2007 Pontiac G5s, 2006-07 Pontiac Solstices, 2003-14 and 2007 Saturn Skys.
G.M. has stated in a release that as of Nov. 24, G.M. dealers have repaired 1.36 million ignition switches globally out of 2.36 million the automaker believes are still in use, or 57.8 percent of the affected vehicles. Overall, G.M. recalled 26 million vehicles in North America and 28 million vehicles globally during 2014.
Under the compensation program, death claims deemed eligible will receive a minimum of $1 million, which can increase depending on a variety of factors. The company has set aside $400 million to cover ignition switch and recall-related compensation expenses, but that number could rise as high as $600 million depending on the volume of claims. G.M. compensation adviser Ken Feinberg stated that 2,215 claims have been submitted — including 229 death claims and 142 for very serious injuries — and 1,081 have no documentation.
Erickson's family has filed a claim for compensation with the fund General Motors established and Feinberg has found their claim eligible for compensation of at least $1 million.
The attorneys of The Cochran Firm, D.C. are actively investigating claims related to G.M. ignition switch recall. If you were in a car accident involving a defective vehicle and were injured, please contact us for a free, prompt case review. Because strict deadlines apply to filing claims, we recommend contacting us at your earliest convenience.