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Arizona Sues GM Over Allegedly Hidden Defects

PHOENIX (CN) - General Motors knowingly sold unsafe vehicles in Arizona, the state claims in a lawsuit, becoming the first in the union to sue the car company over an alleged cover-up.

General Motors "manufactured and sold millions of vehicles that were not safe, including hundreds of thousands in Arizona, and it failed to remedy serious defects in millions of older GM-branded vehicles," says the complaint filed in Maricopa County Superior Court late Wednesday.

"As New GM has belatedly disclosed in scores of recalls in 2014, safety defects affected over 27 million GM-branded vehicles on the road in the United States. These vehicles were not recalled until 2014, but the vast majority of them should have been recalled years earlier."

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who will leave office at the end of the year, sued the company under the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, which carries civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.

"Under Arizona law, companies have a basic responsibility not to deceive and mislead, but instead to act honestly and in good faith," Horne said in statement Thursday. "As this lawsuit illustrates, General Motors failed to do that, endangering too many Arizonans."

"Hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting owners and lessees in Arizona continued driving unsafe vehicles, posing a danger to themselves, their passengers and loved ones, other drivers, and pedestrians -- all while GM knew the truth about the defects," Horne added

The 130-page complaint alleges that GM knew of its "now infamous ignition switch defects", which caused car engines to shut down without warning, back in 2009, but didn't launch a recall until 2014.

"New GM's claims that the defects were known only to lower level engineers are false," the complaint states. "For example, current CEO Mary Barra, while head of product development, was informed in 2011 of a safety defect in the electronic power steering of several models. Despite 4,800 consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty repairs, GM waited until 2014 to disclose this defect."

The complaint adds that "New GM's false representations and omissions harmed Arizona consumers because the emergence of the truth about New GM's abysmal safety record and culture of deceit, and its failure to promptly remedy known defects, has greatly diminished the value of GM-branded vehicles sold after the inception of New GM."


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