Moreover, they also had questions surrounding the behavior of the car leading up to their daughter’s accident. The grieving parents noted that Brooke had the car serviced just a few days before the accident, after finding the engine had a tendency to stop running seemingly of its own accord. Brooke had received the car back from the dealer the day before her accident, assuming the car had been repaired.
“Brooke was seat-belted, driving at or about the speed limit and sober, according to the investigating officer,” Cooper said, in comments to LawyersandSettlements.com’s Brenda Craig. “We wondered what could have happened to make her lose control. It was a straight two-lane road. It certainly raised our suspicions.”
The attorney’s first priority was to access the damaged Cobalt’s data recorder, or black box. “In Brooke’s case, we know she was traveling somewhere between 55 and 58 mph shortly before the crash,” Cooper recounts. “We know from the black box that the key was in the accessory position when the impact occurred. It means in all likelihood she is driving down the road and three or four seconds before the crash her key shuts off. That shuts off her engine, her power steering and her brakes, and she loses control of the car.”
Beyond the issue of the engine shutting off, is the potential that airbags could fail. An investigationopened in February by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) speaks to the possibility of an airbag system issue in concert with the failure of an ignition switch to remain in the ‘run’ position. **
“In some cases,” states the NHTSA document, “the timing of the ignition switch movement relative to the activation of the sensing algorithm of the crash event may result in the airbags not deploying.”
In their lawsuit against GM, Brooke Melton’s parents agreed to an undisclosed settlement - the terms of the settlement were subject to confidentiality agreements according to Cooper.
“The GM testimony and documents also indicate that they rejected the fixes as not an acceptable business case,” Cooper said. “It was about business for GM and the company didn’t focus on the people that would be in the cars and that would be in these situations where the engines would turn off,” says Cooper.
“And now in 2014, we have all these crashes and fatalities (as many as 12), and in February 2014, GM finally realizes it is a safety problem. It is too late for Brooke, of course,” says Cooper.
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The expanded GM recall covers model year 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Solstice, model year 2003-2007 Saturn Ion and model year 2007 Saturn Sky.
*“GM Recalls Reach Nearly 7 Million”, CNNMoney, April 1, 2014, http://money.cnn.com/2014/04/01/news/companies/gm-recalls
** US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), ODI Resume, Investigation # TQ 14-001 Recall 14V-047, 2/26/14, http://www.safetyresearch.net/Library/2014-02-26_TQ_Opening_Resume.pdf