Attorneys general in Maryland and 48 other states have reached a settlement with General Motors resolving claims that the automaker concealed ignition-switch defects.
The settlement concludes a multi-state investigation into the manufacturer’s failure to disclose defects in several models and model years of GM vehicles, Attorney General Brian Frosh said Thursday.
“GM’s defective ignition switches put its customers’ lives at risk,” Frosh said in an announcement. “Even worse, we believe that after the defect was identified, GM delayed notifying owners of GM vehicles, jeopardizing the safety of its customers.”
In 2014, GM issued seven vehicle recalls related to unintended key-rotation or ignition-switch-related issues that affected more than 9 million vehicles. Under some conditions, the ignition switch could move out of the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” position, causing the electrical system, including power steering and power brakes, to shut off. And if a collision occurred, the airbags could have failed to deploy.
The attorneys general alleged that some employees of GM’s predecessor, General Motors Corp., knew as early as 2004 that the ignition switch was defective but delayed recalls for a decade.
Under the settlement, filed Thursday in Baltimore City Circuit Court, GM must pay $120 million. The automaker also agreed to not represent a vehicle as safe unless it complies with federal safety standards and to not represent that certified pre-owned vehicles that GM advertises are safe or have been repaired if those vehicles are subject to open recalls. GM also must instruct its dealers that all applicable recall repairs must be completed before any GM vehicle included in a recall is eligible for certification.