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The Versailles Republican

May 14, 2015 • Headlines

Stephanie Siemer’s first grade class won the pull-tab contest at Milan Elementary for the 2014-2015 school year. The students collected 42 pounds of pull tabs. The pull tabs benefit the Ronald McDonald House. Students were treated to McDonald’s Happy Meals donated by Versailles McDonald’s. Margaret Craig coordinates this program at Milan Elementary. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Pictured above are SRES kindergarten teachers and students. South Ripley Elementary kindergarten classes received a grant in the amount of $4,270.00 to purchase new iPads. This grant was filled out and awarded from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education. South Ripley thanks Toolbox for Education for this exceptional gift that will help many students for years to come. SUBMITTED PHOTO
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Local couple files suit against GM
Claims a car defect caused son’s death

A wrongful death lawsuit against General Motors has been filed on behalf of a Versailles couple whose son was killed on August 7, 2010, while driving a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am

Tanner Tucker


Pictured left is Tanner Tucker.

Tanner Tucker was 17 years old and a South Ripley senior when he was driving the family car and lost control, striking a tree at SR 101, near Milan. Accident investigators could not determine the cause of the crash, according to the complaint filed. The complaint says the ignition key slipped into accessory or off mode, and the airbag failed to deploy when it crashed. In October, the couple received a safety recall letter from GM in the mail. The notice asked the owners to take the car in to fix an ignition key rotation problem.

Denise Tucker, Tanner’s mother, told Ripley Publishing this news helps “put a piece of the puzzle together.” The car manufacturer issued eight safety recalls, affecting 13.5 million cars worldwide.

The lawsuit was filed May 11 at the U.S. District Court of Southern District of New York by law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. The law firm is also the lead co-counsel representing owners of recalled vehicles in nationwide litigation against GM.

Tucker vehicle


Pictured left is Tanner Tucker's Pontiac Grand Am at the crash scene, showing the ignition key in the accessory position.

The Tucker lawsuit reveals that GM’s Feinberg Compensation Fund excludes 10 million vehicles that were recalled for containing the deadly ignition switch defect and therefore were not eligible for the Feinberg fund.

“The fact is that GM’s Feinberg fund was established to supposedly aid those injured by the ignition switch defect, but as this smoking gun reveals, families of those who have died due to this defect have still not received the compensation that GM promised,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “The fund only allows victims of the first ignition switch recall to make a claim, and in my view that’s an arbitrary line drawn to appease Congress.”

GM Ignition Compensation Fund covers claims by those vehicles under the February/March/April ignition switch recalls, and not claims from vehicles affected by five other 2014 ignition switch recalls. An investigation found that several GM engineers were aware of the defects since 2003. The automaker did not begin the recall until Feb. 2014.

GM acknowledges 100 deaths and numerous other life-altering injuries tied to the ignition-switch defect, according to the Hagens Berman firm. Tucker was not eligible for the Feinberg settlement, “but it was recalled with similar problems and yet excluded from the process,” lawyer Rob Carey said. “We believe this death toll count understates the truth about the deaths caused by GM’s defective switches,” Berman said.

The photo of the Tucker vehicle shows the key in accessory position. The defective switch can cause a car to switch off while in operation, causing the car to stall and disables airbags and electrical features such as power steering and brakes. Tucker’s airbags did not deploy. Denise Tucker said, “The photo is very telling.” “We believe this ghastly oversight means GM’s creation of the fund has been arbitrary and was just a PR stunt to appease Congress and stave off more public outcry,” said Berman. He said this is an insufficient response from GM.

According to the release from the law firm, GM’s CEO Mary Barra claimed that GE was taking “responsibility for what has happened by treating (victims and their families) with compassion, decency and fairness.”

The Tuckers are requesting a jury trial, and seek from GM economic and non-economic compensatory damages, attorney fees and other court costs. The trial could be held in Indiana.

Pick up this week's edition of The Versailles Republican for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• LifeTime Resources: Agency is all about assisting others (front page)
• Economic outlook: Small business provides most jobs in county (front page)
• State Park fees increase (front page)
• Letter to the Editor: Promoting Indiana agriculture globally (page 4)
• On the Record from the Ripley County Courthouse (section B, page 3)
• Versailles Town Court (section B, page 5)
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