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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Vermont Attorney General Receives Over $1 Million In Settlement With General Motors Company Over Defective Ignition Switch

October 26, 2017

CONTACT: Jill S. Abrams, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-1106

Attorney General TJ Donovan announced Vermont’s participation in a $120 million multistate settlement with General Motors Company (“GM”). As part of the settlement, Vermont will receive over $1 million. The settlement is between GM and attorneys general of 49 states and the District of Columbia.

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

“This matter addresses GM’s violation of our consumer protection laws and helps keep Vermonters safe on the road,” said Attorney General Donovan.

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.

The states alleged in their lawsuits that employees of GM and General Motors Corporation knew, as early as 2004, that the ignition switch posed a safety defect because it could cause airbag non-deployment. GM personnel decided it wasn’t a safety concern and delayed making recalls. GM continued to market the reliability and safety of motor vehicles equipped with the defective ignition switch.

Pursuant to the settlement reached between GM and the attorneys general, GM must comply with the following conditions, in addition to the monetary payment:

  • 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.

Last modified: March 12, 2018