GM sued for wrongful death in faulty ignition case

New cars sit on the sales lot of

New cars sit on the sales lot of a Chevrolet dealership in Colma, Calif. on Jan. 3, 2013. (Credit: Getty Images)

A retired employee of Delphi Automotive has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit claiming General Motors Co. concealed a faulty ignition switch that was responsible for a crash that killed his daughter.

The lawsuit was brought Monday by Steve Smith in Alabama state court and names GM as a defendant, as well as Delphi, which supplied the ignition switch to GM.

GM recalled 1.6 million vehicles in February, despite learning of problems with the ignition switch as early as 2001 and issuing related service bulletins to dealers with suggested remedies in 2005. GM has linked the ignition switch problems to 12 deaths.


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The company has apologized for how it handled the recall.

A spokesman for GM, Jim Cain, declined to comment on the lawsuit. A spokeswoman for Delphi did not immediately return a request for comment.

According to the complaint, Smith's daughter, Aubrey Wallace Williams, was driving a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt on a highway in Alabama when the ignition switch failed, causing the engine to shut off and turning off power in the vehicle. The car became uncontrollable and crossed into a different lane where it struck an 18-wheeler truck, the complaint said. Williams was killed instantly.

The lawsuit did not specify how much Smith is seeking in damages. It said GM and Delphi knew about the switch problem but failed to address it, resulting in Williams' death.

The automaker has said it is moving as fast as it can to repair vehicles with the faulty switch.

Smith retired from Delphi about three years ago. He did not have any involvement with the ignition switch, according to his lawyer, Jere Beasley, of Montgomery, Ala.

GM has faced a growing number of lawsuits since the recall, including proposed class actions claiming vehicles lost value or were unusable as a result of the defect, and a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of three teen girls injured or killed in a 2006 accident involving a recalled 2005 Chevy Cobalt.

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