GM Recognizes 19 Deaths From Faulty Ignition Switch; Has 125 Total Death Claims

Author: Angelo Young

In a dramatic step, General Motors (NYSE:GM) confirmed Monday that 19 deaths were caused by a faulty ignition switch in older sedans, a 50 percent increase over the 13 deaths the Detroit automaker previously acknowledged.

GM has received 445 claims related to accidents caused by the defect, including 125 for deaths and 58 for serious life-altering injuries such as quadriplegia, according to Ken Feinberg, the high-profile lawyer in charge of handling the automaker's compensation fund for accident victims. His office has acknowledged 31 of these claims as legitimate, including 19 deaths and four instances of serious injuries.

The previous tally was 13 deaths from 54 accidents. Feinberg didn't say how many accidents are involved in the 445 claims. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the death toll is larger because GM had been counting only deaths from frontal airbag failure, excluding deaths and injuries of back-seat passengers.

"This new information reinforces that GM may not have been as forthcoming as we would have hoped about how serious the defect was and how not responding was a major mistake," Kaitlin Wowak, assistant professor of management at Notre Dame University who specializes in supply chain risk, said in an email Monday.

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