Have you been injured in a GM Malibu recall-related accident?

Project Info

Project Description

Dori’s story: on October 18, 2005 Adam Powledge was driving his four children, Isaac, Rachel, Christian, and Jacob to school in the family’s 2004 Chevrolet Malibu. As Adam approached the 4600 block of I-45 North near the intersection of Holland Road he lost control of the vehicle. Witnesses described the Malibu traveling at a high rate of speed, even as other vehicles began slowing for approaching traffic. As the Malibu drove off the interstate and onto the median it made a straight-line that was so direct in its trajectory that there is one explanation for its course—a vehicle malfunction.

Adam, Rachel, Isaac, Christian and Jacob died at the scene. The wreckage was so severe that valuable evidence was lost. On September 6, 2007 Dori filed suit against GM, asserting that the crash was the result of an electrical malfunction. During the course of the litigation GM blamed Adam for the crash—GM’s primary legal defense was that Adam committed murder-suicide and acted purposefully, killing his children. As a key basis for that defense, GM repeatedly cited eyewitness testimony that “no brake lights” were visible as the Malibu careened out of control.

On June 1, 2009 GM entered bankruptcy. A government orchestrated purchase allowed New GM to purchase assets and avoid liabilities of Old GM. Dori’s 2007 lawsuit was transferred to the bankruptcy court and Dori was ordered to mediation. In mediation Dori agreed to a confidential settlement based on a fundamental belief—that GM was litigating in good faith and adhering to due process by producing relevant, discoverable evidence and testifying truthfully while under oath. That belief was misplaced. Rather than conducting discovery in a forthright manner, GM was committing fraud by withholding key documents concerning the power steering system.

On March 31, 2014 GM notified the National Highway Safety Administration of a safety recall that GM initiated due to a defect in the power steering system. The 2004 Chevy Malibu driven by Adam on October 18, 2005 was included in the list of vehicles that were recalled. Then, on May 15, 2014 GM issued another recall, this time affecting major components of the Malibu’s electrical system. Below is a chart of all GM recalls affecting Plaintiffs’ 2004 Malibu that was the subject of this crash:

Recall Date: 5/15/14

Model: 2004-2012 Malibu

Reason(s): Increased resistance in the Body Control Module (BCM). This condition can cause brake lamp failure, cruise control failure, traction control failure, braking assist failure, electronic stability control failure.

Hazard: Any of the failure conditions increase the risk of a crash.

What is the recall: GM will notify owners and dealers, attach wiring harness to BCM with a spacer, apply dialectic lubricant to both the BCM and harness connector, and will relearn the brake pedal home position.

Recall Date: 3/31/14

Model: 2004-2006 Malibu

Reason(s): Possible loss of electric power steering (EPS) assist could occur at any time while driving.

Hazard: If power steering is lost, greater driver effort required to steer at low speeds, increasing the risk of a crash.

What is the recall: At time of recall, parts to fix problem were not currently available.

While the ignition switch recall has received greater media attention, the Malibu is now the most recalled GM vehicle for 2014. [1]According to GM, the 5-15-14 recall listed above is the result of a “problem with the wiring harness associated with the brake lamp.” [2] This can cause “the vehicles’ brake lights to illuminate when the brakes aren’t being engaged, or, on the other hand, prevent the lights from illuminating when the driver hits the brakes.”[3] Importantly for Dori’s case, the problem can also “disable important systems like electronic stability control, traction control, panic braking assist, and cruise control.” [4] These systems were the primary areas that demonstrated a lack of control prior to the crash.

We also know that the reason why witnesses did not see brake lights was due to the problems with the “wiring harness associated with the brake lamp” that can “prevent the lights from illuminating when the driver hits the brakes.” But rather than GM disclosing this known electrical issue, the lack of brake lights being observed was used as the basis for accusing Adam Powledge of murdering his children.

When did GM know about this potentially fatal flaw concerning the wiring harness? In 2009, during the height of the 2007 litigation. From USA Today: The documents, filed Thursday, show that GM recalled about 8,000 Pontiacs from the 2005 and 2006 model years because the brake lights might not work when the driver stepped on the brake pedal. But the company didn’t recall later-model G6s or the Chevrolet Malibu and Saturn Aura until three weeks ago. The cars are nearly identical.

When did GM know about this potentially fatal flaw concerning the wiring harness? In 2009, during the height of the 2007 litigation. From USA Today: The documents, filed Thursday, show that GM recalled about 8,000 Pontiacs from the 2005 and 2006 model years because the brake lights might not work when the driver stepped on the brake pedal. But the company didn’t recall later-model G6s or the Chevrolet Malibu and Saturn Aura until three weeks ago. The cars are nearly identical.

USA Today, “Documents show another delayed GM recall,” May 29, 2014.

The 5-15 recall not only impacts the brakes, but “can affect some of a car’s other functions. If the cruise control is on, drivers may have to push harder on the brake pedal to get it to disengage… Also, the cars’ traction control, electronic stability control and panic braking assist features, all designed to prevent crashes or lessen their severity, could become disabled.” [6] These are all of the features that impacted Adam’s Malibu as he took the children to school. None of this information was provided to Dori during the 2007 Litigation, but was withheld.

Contrary to GM’s smears and accusations, Adam did nothing wrong—he was the innocent victim of GM’s negligence, gross negligence and cover-up. Dori and her family, as they mourned this unspeakable loss, had to contend with these baseless accusations. GM knowingly made these accusations as it withheld evidence that proves Adam did not murder his children. Now Dori has filed a new lawsuit, seeking to hold GM accountable.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or death as the result of GM’s irresponsible and horrific acts of concealment and greed, we invite you to contact the Josh Davis Law Firm.

[1] CNNMoney.com, “Chevy Malibu tops GM’s recall parade,” May 23, 2014,http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2014/05/23/chevy-malibu-tops-gms-recall-parade/ (last visited 5-30-14).

[2] Yahoo!News, “Huge GM Recall: Chevrolet Corvette, Malibu, Silverado, Tahoe, Cadillac CTS, GMC Sierra, More,” May 15, 2014, https://autos.yahoo.com/news/huge-gm-recall-chevrolet-corvette-141857653.html (last visited 5-30-14).

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[6] USA Today, “Documents show another delayed GM recall,” May 29, 2014,http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/05/29/another-delayed-gm-recall/9740545/ (last visited 5-30-14).