By Erwin Seba
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge refrained on Friday from issuing an emergency order that would have parked millions of General Motors Co cars recalled for defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths.
District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos at a hearing in Corpus Christi, Texas, said she would need more time to study briefs submitted by attorneys for two owners of a recalled GM car and receive documents from the carmaker’s lawyers.
A ruling on the requested “stop drive order” is expected in the coming days.
Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million cars equipped with the switch. So far this year, GM has recalled a total of nearly 7 million vehicles, or about the same number recalled in the previous four years combined.
Without warning, the switches can make vehicle engines stall while operating, stop air bags from deploying, and impede power steering and power brakes from operating.
This week, the automaker’s Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra was grilled by two congressional committees and the company showed signs it would create a compensation fund for victims similar to a fund created by BP Plc for those affected by a 2010 oil spill.
GM has said it would take a charge of $750 million in the first quarter, mostly for the recalls announced in that period, including ones linked to the defective ignition switch.
In Friday’s hearing, the judge was asked by attorneys for GM vehicle owners or their survivors to order all models under recall off the road until they can be fixed.
GM had told the judge through documents filed before the hearing that it was safe to operate the vehicles as long as nothing was attached to the key while it was in the ignition.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Terry Wade and Lisa Shumaker)
[Image via Agence France-Presse]