Family Sues GM over Albemarle Man's Death - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Family Sues GM over Albemarle Man's Death

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photo courtesy of the Albemarle County Police Department photo courtesy of the Albemarle County Police Department

The family of an Albemarle County man killed in a 2009 crash is suing General Motors.

Twenty-year-old Ben Hair died in what many now believe was a crash linked to a defect in the Pontiac he was driving, a defect that eventually led to a recall.

The 80-page lawsuit was filed Wednesday in a California Federal Court. It contains 10 counts against General Motors including wrongful death and fraudulent concealment.

Hair was driving home on December 13, 2009 in his Pontiac G5. He was just two miles from his house on Watts Passage in Albemarle when lawyers say he lost control of his car and hit a tree at 50 miles per hour, killing him.

Nine months after the accident, Hair's parent received a recall notice from GM, saying the power steering unit on the car was prone to failure. That car was one of 2.5 million vehicles recalled by GM.

"The real value is twofold. It's holding General Motors accountable for what they've done, not just to the Hair family but to many people who have been killed or injured by the vehicles, and any monetary benefit that comes from this really from the Hair family's perspective is going to go to a foundation that they have set up in their son's name," said Jonathan Michael, the Hair family's attorney.

The Hairs also allege that GM concealed the fact that the car had a black box in it, which contained information about the car at the time of the crash. The car was eventually crushed and the black box was destroyed.

The family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages though an exact figure is not listed in the lawsuit. A jury trial is demanded.

As of this week, GM has recalled more than 13 million vehicles this year alone, which is a new record for the company. The latest recall includes: 1.4 million full-size crossovers with defective seat belts, 1 million older sedans with shift cables that can wear out, 1,400 2015 Cadillac Escalades and ESVs with passenger airbag defects, and a handful of pickups with a fire risk.

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