If someone asked you what enterprise caused 67 deaths and 113 injuries in a little more than a decade, you might guess the mob. Sadly, the answer is General Motors (GM). The auto manufacturer became aware of a defective ignition switch during testing in 2001, but failed to remediate the flaw appropriately then later hid its knowledge of it.
When GM’s concealing of the deadly ignition switch defect became public knowledge, there was justified outrage. Many people were stunned that a reputable company would cover up a serious safety flaw in the interest of profits. However, few product liability attorneys throughout America were surprised. It is an ugly side of business that has long been part of manufacturing business: weighing customer safety against profits and the cost of a recall.
When a manufacturer learns of a safety defect in its models – whether through internal testing or complaints from consumers – it looks at the potential cost of fixing the flaw. If there is an inexpensive way to fix the defect, the manufacturer will often recall the vehicle.
The decision becomes much more difficult for the automaker if there is no easy fix, or the flaw involves an exceptionally high number of models – the situation GM found itself in. GM decided to try to bury the problem and its history of missteps involving the ignition flaw. It decided that the cost of defending potential injury or wrongful death lawsuits would be less than issuing a recall.
A Normal Occurrence In The Drug Industry
This practice is extremely common the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, which nets more than $300 billion a year and is expected to reach $400 billion within three years.
Global giants routinely put drugs on the market that have not been sufficiently tested. Sometimes, the drugmaker even advertises the medication for unapproved uses, deciding that the millions of dollars it is fined will easily be offset by the additional sales. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) did this with Risperdal, an antipsychotic medicine.
What Can You Do?
Public outcry over such cold-hearted business decisions is important. When a defect damages the goodwill of a company, it serves as a warning that the public will never again view its products in the same light.
For those that have suffered an injury or death in their family, a lawsuit is necessary to recover compensation. Choose an attorney experienced in product liability cases and injury valuation, the success of your claim may be determined by the skill of your lawyer.