Calif. prosecutor sues GM over claims it hid defects

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LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. was sued by a California prosecutor over claims it deceived buyers by intentionally concealing defects rather than fixing them.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas accuses the carmaker of endangering consumers by hiding the defects because it wanted to avoid the expense of recalling millions of vehicles. In the June 27 complaint in state court in Santa Ana, he seeks an order for GM to stop its allegedly deceptive business practices as well as restitution for customers.

“This case is about having safe cars on the road, because cars carry our most precious cargo,” Rackauckas said Monday in a statement. “Orange County citizens rely on safe cars to transport and meet their families and friends, and get to work.”

GM is stepping up the pace of recalls as it faces multiple investigations over its slowness in notifying regulators and car owners of the need to fix 2.59 million small cars with ignition malfunctions that it linked to at least 13 deaths. Since that action began in February, the company has recalled about 9 million vehicles for related ignition repairs.

GM, which has already called back more than 20 million cars in North America this year, recalled 8.45 million more on Monday for defects including ignition and electrical malfunctions.

Greg Martin, a GM spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit.

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