General Motors Must Pay $17 Million in Transmission Suit
By Tara Teichgraeber
Business Journal, December 31, 1999
Attorneys at Gallagher & Kennedy celebrated a big win after a Maricopa County Superior Court jury handed down a $17 million verdict against General Motors Corp.
Attorneys Robert Boatman and Adam Studnicki filed suit against the automaker on behalf of the Golonka family. The suit claimed Ruth Golonka of Scottsdale was killed nearly three years ago after her 1987 GMC Sierra pickup truck slipped out of “park” into “reverse” and crushed her.
The 67-year-old had pulled off the road to pick up something a neighbor had left outside, when the vehicle lurched backward, killing her.
Boatman and Studnicki told the court that GM was aware of the transmission defect and had received 2,000 reports of other “park-to-reverse” incidents. They also presented evidence saying GM denied there was a problem and told engineers not to spend any more money on safety precautions than required by the federal government.
“The jury, in its wisdom, saw through GM’s weak arguments and found the auto giant was more interested in the dollar than in its customers’ safety,” Studnicki said.
The Golonka family received $10 million in punitive damages and $7 million in actual damages.
Reprinted with permission of Business Journal.