Brooke Melton was like any other car owner on the road. She had some car troubles every so often, but she stayed safe while driving and never drove distracted. Unfortunately, her safe driving couldn’t avoid a fatal problem with her 2005 Chevy Cobalt. Three days after the first time her car stalled while driving, it happened again, causing her to hit an oncoming car. She was dead before she could be transported to the hospital.
Brooke’s wrongful death in 2010 was the catalyst that made the public aware that GM had a problem with its ignition switches. During operation, the switches would move to the “accessory” or “off” position. This would cause the power steering, power brakes, and even airbags not to function correctly.
When Brooke’s car was inspected, it was determined that her ignition switch was in the “accessory” position and that her airbags never deployed. Although GM and the Meltons reached a settlement in 2013, Brooke’s family discovered in 2014 that GM had withheld information from them. They plan to reopen the case and make GM responsible for the part it played in their daughter’s untimely death. They have said that money isn’t the issue; instead, it’s the fact that GM didn’t give them enough information before their settlement. In fact, GM already had knowledge of the defect but didn’t notify owners until it was too late for Brooke.
GM still seems to be playing games with the number of deaths resulting from the defective switches. The company’s list of acknowledged deaths does not include Brooke because only deaths in head-on collisions are being counted. This approach by GM is particularly troubling since Brooke’s case was one of the driving forces behind the GM recall of the switches. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the number of deaths will be higher than GM’s count.