In 2011, Zachary Stevens was behind the wheel of a 2007 Saturn Sky when he was involved in an accident that killed another driver. Stevens put the blame on the car’s ignition, arguing that it simply shut off, thus causing him to lose control of the vehicle. His lawyers showed the court that at the moment of the crash, the driver had a heavy keychain which is known to aggravate the problem with GM’s switches when bulky items are on the keychain and pull down the switch.
As a response, GM’s lawyers said the key on the chain presented to the court did not work, asking the judge to either throw out the case entirely or tell the jurors not to take into consideration the testimony related to the heavy keychain causing the car’s ignition to shut off. The judge decided not to accept GM’s argument, so the trial continued.
Fast forward to last Thursday, the verdict was announced. A Texas jury in Harris County said the ignition switch was not the cause of the fatal 2011 accident. GM spokesman Jim Cain told Reuters the jurors deliberated for less than an hour and returned with a unanimous verdict for the automaker. He went on to point out ‘the accident had nothing to do with the ignition switch,’ while Josh Davis, a lawyer for Stevens, described the verdict as being a ‘very though loss.’
It’s the second verdict in favor of GM this year in lawsuits regarding the problematic ignition switch. Overall, it is the third case of this kind in 2016, with the first one being voluntarily dismissed during the trial by the plaintiffs. A fourth similar trial will begin in Manhattan on September 12.