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The families of three teenagers killed or injured in a 2006 Wisconsin car crash are suing General Motors, alleging that the company was negligent in designing its small cars and committed fraud by not disclosing facts about the defects.
Natasha Weigel, who was 18, and Amy Rademaker, who was 15, died after the October 2006 crash involving a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt compact car with a faulty ignition switch. The car's driver, Megan Phillips, suffered permanent brain damage, according to a statement from the families' law firm.
GM failed to warn the teens of a dangerous defect and misrepresented the car's safety, said lawyer Robert Hilliard in a statement. The firm said the lawsuit was filed Friday in Hennepin County, Minn., where the car was purchased.
The crash was among the first blamed on faulty ignition switches. Last month GM recalled 1.6 million Cobalts and other small cars worldwide to replace the switches. The company has admitted knowing about the problem for at least 11 years before taking the action.
The switches can slip out of the run position, shutting down the engine while the cars are being driven. It also disables the air bags if there's a crash.
"GM hid this dangerous, life-threatening defect from my clients and all other Cobalt drivers for over a decade just to avoid the cost of a recall," Hilliard, of the firm Hilliard Munoz Gonzales, said in the statement.
The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 each for Phillips and the survivors of Weigel and Rademaker, the statement said.
GM would not comment directly on the lawsuit but said it's focused on "ensuring the safety and peace of mind of our customers involved in the recall."
CEO Mary Barra has admitted that GM took too long to recall the cars and apologized to the families of those killed in crashes.