Girardi | Keese

Woman Acquitted of Negligent Homicide Charge in Connection to Defective G.M. Ignition Switch

We have yet another story involving G.M., which creates an image of a house of cards, a house that could eventually crumble given all the legal trouble piling on the automaker.  

In the latest news involving the defective G.M. ignition switch, Jeff Glor with CBS News reports that a woman, charged with criminal negligent homicide after she crashed her Saturn Ion and her fiancé died (in 2004), this week was acquitted of the crime after G.M. representatives provided a letter to the judge.

This letter indicated that Candice Anderson's Saturn Ion was defective - which put 10 years of "emotional guilt" to rest. "The emotional guilt - all these years," Anderson said, as Glor quotes. "You know, it's been a question if I was at fault for his death, and I've carried it for so long."

Possible Criminal Charges against General Motors

This case introduces yet another layer to the G.M. legal saga, which has involved scores of civil lawsuits alleging G.M.'s tort liability under product defect law, personal injury, and wrongful death. Recently, Arizona became the first state to sue G.M. And federal prosecutors have been developing a fraud case against G.M. at least as far back as July 2014, based on this Reuters report, based on allegations of misleading statements that could open the automaker up to federal charges for mail and wire fraud.

Now Texas prosecutors (where Anderson's crash took place and the state in which she was charged with criminal negligent homicide) are apparently mulling possible criminal charges against G.M. because the automaker is alleged not to have disclosed the defects during Anderson's criminal case.

Glor quotes Anderson's lawyer, who references G.M. in his statement: "I shouldn't have had to be the one to reach out to them. I started asking them weeks ago to show up at this courthouse in Texas and stand with me and ask this judge to do what she just did" - which was to acquit his client.

Holding Businesses Accountable for Defective and Dangerous Products

Anderson's acquittal won't bring her fiancé back. The damage there has been done. In the same sense, the damage has already been done to those who were injured or killed from the defective ignition switches.

But a product liability claim is one way to hold a business accountable. In these types of claims, we often discover that the business actually knew about the defect and yet brought the product to market despite this knowledge. Unfortunately, this seems to have been the case with G.M.

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