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U.S. to Appeal Ruling Dismissing Recall of GM Cars Over Braking

May 12, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The government said Monday it will appeal a federal judge's decision against requiring the recall of 1.1 million 1980 General Motors X-body automobiles because of alleged braking problems.

The Justice Department, in a notice to the U.S. District Court, said it will file formal motions with the U.S. Court of Appeals shortly in seeking to have the ruling in favor of General Motors overturned.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson last month threw out the government suit that alleged that GM's 1980 front-wheel-drive X-body cars contained a safety defect linked to 1,417 accidents, 18 deaths and 400 injuries.

$4 Million in Fines Sought

The suit on behalf of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had asked that GM be fined $4 million and that it be ordered to recall the cars, which were sold as the Chevrolet Citation, Pontiac Phoenix, Buick Skylark and Oldsmobile Omega.

The ruling came after a two-year, bitterly fought and technically complex trial during which it was alleged that GM sold its line of 1980 X-body cars despite knowledge of braking problems that at times caused the cars to skid dangerously.

But Jackson in his April 14 ruling sided with the manufacturer and against the highway safety agency.

The government's "anecdotal accounts of skidding events" were considered insufficient evidence to warrant a recall or fine, the judge concluded in a 71-page opinion handed down more than a year after the trial had concluded with closing arguments.

The NHTSA, the leading federal highway safety agency, had cited 4,282 complaints from owners of the cars, who said the vehicles had a tendency to lock up and skid dangerously when the brakes were applied under certain circumstances.

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