NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. will have to tell owners of 2.59 million recalled small cars to "park it" if customers suing the automaker convince a judge faulty ignition switches linked to 13 deaths make them too dangerous to drive.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi, Texas, is set to consider forcing the company to adopt what the customers call a "fail-safe solution" to prevent further accidents while the switches are replaced. A hearing is set for Friday, according to the court's hearing notice.
The request for a park-it order was made in connection with a proposed class-action lawsuit seeking as much as $10 billion for the lost value of Chevrolet Cobalts and other small-car models recalled this year. GM is facing lawsuits by car owners or investors in Michigan and California, among other states, as well as lawsuits involving injuries and deaths as it seeks to address criticism it knew of the defect for at least a decade and failed to correct it.
GM CEO Mary Barra fielded pointed questions and accusations from Congress this week, with one senator saying GM had a "culture of coverup" and another predicting it may face criminal liability. GM focused on costs in the past and now makes the customer "our compass," she told House and Senate members probing GM's conduct.
Barra met at the company's Washington offices with families of accident victims. Barra circled the table and shook hands with each of the 22 family members, apologizing personally and as CEO, and listening to each of their stories of loss, according to Bob Hilliard, an attorney for plaintiffs in two lawsuits against the automaker who organized the session.