Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced Thursday a $120 million settlement with General Motors Company over allegations it concealed ignition safety problems in its vehicles.
The automaker reached the settlement with attorneys general of 49 states and the District of Columbia. It concludes a multistate investigation into GM’s failure to disclose known safety defects in several vehicle models and model years.
“General Motors and other automakers should keep their customers’ safety at the forefront of everything they do,” Wasden said. “And when there is a problem, car companies must be transparent and act quickly. Automakers should recognize that if they fail in this regard, states will be ready to take action.”
Idaho’s share of the settlement is just over $1,247,000.
In 2014, GM issued seven vehicle recalls in response to unintended key rotation-related and/or ignition switch-related issues, which affected more than nine 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. When this occurred, drivers experienced a loss of electrical systems, including power steering and power brakes. The problem could also result in a vehicle’s airbags failing to deploy.
State investigators have alleged that some GM employees knew as early as 2004 that the ignition switch posed a safety defect. However, GM personnel delayed issuing a recall, according to a release from Wadsen’s office. The company continued to market the reliability and safety of its vehicles which were equipped with the defective ignition switch, the release said.
Wasden alleged that these actions were unfair and deceptive and that the automaker’s actions violated Idaho’s Consumer Protection Act.
Under a consent judgment, which will be submitted to the Ada County District Court in Boise, GM shall:
Not represent that a motor vehicle is “safe” unless the company has complied with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards applicable to the motor vehicle at issue.
Not represent that certified pre-owned vehicles that the company advertises are safe, have been repaired for safety issues, or have been subject to rigorous inspection, unless the 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.