On April 10, 2014, a national class action was commenced on behalf of all Canadian owners, operators, lessors and passengers of GM vehicles that were the subject of recalls for ignition switch and power steering defects.
The claim was brought by the family of Nick Baker, a Cornwall man who was just 22 years old when he lost control of his 2006 Saturn Ion, crossed the centre line and was involved in a head-on collision. The airbags did not deploy and Nick was killed in the crash.
On March 31, 2014, 18 months following his fatal accident, Nick's parents, Suzanne and Danny Baker, received a recall notice from GM. Nick's vehicle was subject to an ignition switch recall, linked to at least 13 deaths in North America.
The class action alleges that GM Canada and other defendants knew of the problem with the ignition switches since at least 2001, but failed to do anything about it until 2014. GM was subject to a U.S. Congressional probe for its handling of the recall.
Russel Molot of Delaney's Law Firm in Ottawa, who represents the Baker family, said that GM's failure to implement a recall sooner, especially when replacing the ignition switch would have cost just 57 cents per vehicle, is inexcusable. "Given the timing of what should have been a much earlier recall, GM appears to have put their own interests ahead of their customers' safety," he said.
Another recall, issued on March 31, 2014, relates to dangerous power-steering defects which are also at issue. The claim alleges that the ignition switch and power-steering defects led to personal injury, wrongful death, psychological injury, property damage and economic loss. Punitive damages are also claimed.
The defendants named in the lawsuit are General Motors of Canada Ltd., General Motors LLC, General Motors Holdings LLC, General Motors Corporation and General Motors Company, as well as Delphi Automotive PLC and DPH-DAS LLC (formerly Delphi Automotive Systems LLC), who manufactured the ignition switches.
Joel P. Rochon, partner at Rochon Genova LLP who issued the claim in Toronto, stated: "Canadians are understandably distraught that GM substantially delayed notifying the public of these dangerous defects".
The allegations raised in the claim have not yet been proven in court. The plaintiffs and the proposed class members are represented by Delaney's Law Firm, Rochon Genova LLP and Kim Orr Barristers PC.