Airbag maker added to GM lawsuit

Plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against General Motors for its handling of widespread recalls are adding the maker of airbags that were found to be defective to their list of defendants they are seeking compensation from. 

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, alleges that Auburn Hills, Mich., based Continental Automotive Systems US Inc. was aware its airbags were not deploying properly in the GM cars that have been recalled. 

GM is facing litigation for accidents involving recalled vehicles made between 2004 and 2010 that have been found to have a dangerous ignition switch flaw that caused cars to abruptly shut off or have their airbags disabled. The company is being accused of delaying issuing the recall, which has been linked to 13 deaths, until February of this year to avoid paying for repairs. 

The plaintiffs in the California lawsuit allege Continental had discussions with GM about the airbag malfunctions as early as 2005. 

“The new filing adds Continental as a defendant because it appears that Continental was also aware of the ignition switch defect in GM cars as early as 2005, when GM met with Continental in the investigation of a crash of a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt,” a lawyer for the accident victims, Adam Levitt, said in a statement. 

“Continental did nothing to redesign its airbags so that they would deploy even if the car’s power went out, not did it warn [the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration] or the public,” Levitt continued. 

GM and the highway safety agency have both been sharply criticized for their handling of the recalls, which affected 1.6 million cars. NHTSA officials have said GM did not provide accurate information about its testing of the faulty ignition switches. 

The company is attempting to have lawsuits filed about accidents that occurred before its 2009 bankruptcy restructuring thrown out. 

GM CEO Mary Barra was roundly criticized by lawmakers for attempting to separate herself from the company’s mid-2000s decision-making by referring to her tenure as a “new GM.” 

Barra told lawmakers that she was “deeply sorry” for the accidents that been linked to the faulty ignition parts. 

The lawsuit that includes the Continental airbag maker includes plaintiffs from 28 states. Another lawsuit has also been filed in the same court that includes plaintiffs from 22 states.