GM must send 'park it now' alert to recalled-car owners, plaintiffs tell U.S. judge

“While GM proposes partial fixes, additional incidents of ignition switch failures will certainly occur,” plaintiffs in a proposed class action say.
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NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against General Motors asked a federal judge in Texas to force the automaker to send a “park it now” warning to car owners not to drive recalled models until faulty ignitions are fixed.

Charles and Grace Silvas, who sued GM this month in a proposed class action for as much as $10 billion for the lost value of 1.6 million cars it recalled, filed the request two days ago with U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi.

Courts can issue such orders if they are needed to prevent people from being harmed, they said in a filing.

Gonzales Ramos on Thursday set an April 4 hearing to consider arguments on the plaintiffs’ emergency motion request.

GM has said it identified 12 deaths linked to vehicles with defective switches made in the mid-2000s, including some Chevrolet Cobalts and HHRs as well as Opel, Pontiac and Saturn models. The carmaker faces a criminal probe and an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“While GM proposes partial fixes, additional incidents of ignition switch failures will certainly occur,” the plaintiffs said. “Injuries and fatalities are the inevitable consequence of such additional accidents.”

The Silvas sued GM for allegedly concealing the defects and reducing the cars’ resale price, not because of fatal crashes after shifting keys stopped the engines. They seek to represent other vehicle owners in a class action.

GM has declined to comment on lawsuits, saying it is focused on ensuring its customers’ safety and peace of mind.

On Wednesday, GM CEO Mary Barra reiterated in a video posted on the company’s YouTube site that the cars being recalled are safe to drive as long as owners don't add objects to the manufacturer-issued key ring. GM has said that added weight on the key ring could allow the switch to slip into accessory mode, which would shut off the engine and deactivate the airbags.

Mike Colias of Automotive News contributed to this report.

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