General Motors should be made to pay for hiding a defect with ignition switches that has been linked to nearly 400 injuries and deaths, a lawyer told a New York jury today.
"This case is not just about an accident that occurred in Oklahoma in 2014," said Robert Hilliard, who is representing Robert Scheuer, an Oklahoma man injured in a car crash.
"This is about the conduct of a company over a period of time that spanned more than a decade."
Hilliard said key General Motors employees were aware of the defect for over a decade. He added that the failure to conduct a safety recall until 2014 created an "ocean of consequences".
General Motors lawyer Mike Brock said "mistakes and errors in judgments made by GM employees" over the switch, but that the switch was not to blame.
The biggest car maker in the US recalled 2.6m US vehicles in 2014 due to an ignition switch fault that could turn mid-journey, causing cars to stall and disabling air bags. Scheuer's case is the first of six test trials over the defect.
General Motors has already agreed to payouts of around $2bn to resolve legal issues connected to the problem.