GM, DOJ reach settlement over ignition switches

Pete Williams and Jonathan Dienst

The Justice Department has reached a settlement with General Motors over the issue of faulty ignition switches that led to over 100 deaths and hundreds of injuries, according to officials familiar with the case.

The Justice Department will announce the settlement Thursday at a news conference in New York. It will include a fine of hundreds of millions of dollars, the officials say.

The agreement will settle charges that the company failed to obey federal laws that require prompt disclosure of safety problems. Last year, GM began recalling two-and-a-half-million cars with ignition switches that could suddenly shut off the engine — disabling the airbags and cutting off the power steering and power brakes.

Would a rate hike slam the brakes on autos?

Prosecutors say the company knew about the problem for more than a decade before reporting it. GM has determined that the switches led to accidents resulting in 124 deaths and 273 injuries.

Officials familiar with the settlement say GM will pay the government a fine of over half a billion dollars — getting some credit for cooperating with the federal investigation.

Separately, victims and their families have accepted compensation from GM of at least $1 million each.