Secret Settlements Conceal Serious Safety Defects

Published on January 26, 2016, by Matthew Sharp

Product Liability

Secret Settlements Conceal Serious Safety Defects

Large companies often hide known product defects to consumers with secret lawsuit settlements that keep the public out of the loop. These secret settlements allow companies to continue the production of defective products which create serious safety hazards for consumers who purchase them assuming they are completely safe. Reno defective product attorneys are often needed to protect the rights of Nevada residents who have been injured by defective products.

For more than a decade, General Motors knew about a problem with faulty switches that caused some of their cars to accelerate without warning and deactivate air bags. The company kept these dangers hidden from the public and federal regulators by offering affected consumers legal settlements if they kept silent about the problems. In 2010, at least one case involved a fatal car crash due to a faulty switch, but a court issued a protective order that sealed the case records and kept the details of the deadly crash secret.

Unfortunately, too many cases that involve product liability litigation reach secret lawsuit settlements behind closed doors. In Nevada, Reno defective product attorneys can’t properly defend the rights of their clients. General Motors ignored their faulty switch problems for years. They refused to take the problems seriously until a senior G.M. official threatened to expose the cover-up and implicate other senior officials during a civil lawsuit deposition

When the cover-up broke in a New York Times report, two U.S. senators – Richard Blumental, a Connecticut Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, s South Carolina Republican – introduced a new bill called the Sunshine in Litigation Act of 2014. The bill makes it more difficult for companies to hide defective product lawsuits in private agreements and secret settlements. It requires federal judges to consider the public’s health and safety and make findings transparent before approving secret settlements and sealing court records in civil actions. Senator Blumental pointed out that judges who allow secret settlements are aiding and abetting consumer injuries from defective products.

Although G.M.’s secret settlements caused national concerns, the problems go far beyond any single company. They affect many companies and hide safety hazards in a wide variety of product categories. Secret lawsuit settlements in Nevada have led to a lack of product safety for consumers and an increased need for Reno defective product attorneys to defend consumers’ rights.