Alex C. Hardy v. General Motors Corp. and Capitol Chevrolet, Inc. and Thelma R. Hardy v. General Motors Corp. 6/3/96

Believed by industry observers to be the largest verdict in automotive product liability history (at the time) and the largest verdict ever rendered against GM (the nation's largest automaker), the jury's award included $40 million in compensatory damages for Alex Hardy, $10 million in loss of consortium damages for his wife, Thelma Hardy and $100 million in punitive damages against GM. Plaintiffs proved that GM had been aware that this defect was killing and injuring Americans for at least 14 years but GM consciously chose not to recall the defective door latches or warn the public. Plaintiffs proved GM engineers, lawyers, and executives had privately labeled the performance of the latch as a "problem," "substandard," and "unacceptable," and had quietly settled all such cases and refused to produce the internal documents showing its guilty knowledge until 1994, when the time for NHTSA to force a recall of the latches expired.

GM appealed the verdict and filed a motion for a new trial. The case settled for a confidential amount in November of 1996.

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