• Jun 10th 2014 at 11:36AM
  • 191
A Crash Investigation Upended


A Texas woman who pleaded guilty to a criminal charge in a 2004 car crash that killed her fiancé is suing General Motors Co.

Candice Anderson is asking a federal judge in Tyler to set aside a $75,000 settlement in the case. The lawsuit also seeks unspecified punitive and exemplary damages.

Anderson was driving a 2004 Saturn Ion in November of 2004 when the car suddenly veered off a road and ran into a tree in Van Zandt County, Texas. Her fiance, Gene Mikale Erikson, who was 25 at the time, was killed. Anderson, then 21, was severely hurt.

Because there were no skid marks, authorities believed Anderson was at fault and charged her with negligent homicide, according to the lawsuit. Believing she was to blame, she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 years of deferred punishment and 260 hours of community service. She also was required to pay for Erikson's funeral and $3,500 in court costs, according to a spokeswoman for her lawyer, Robert Hilliard.

The lawsuit alleges that a faulty GM ignition switch was the real cause of the crash. It contends the switch slipped out of the run position, knocking out power steering and brakes and disabling the air bags. GM, the lawsuit alleges, knew about the bad switches but failed to disclose the problem even though Anderson was pleading guilty.

"She pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide and spent years wracked with guilt about Mr. Erickson's death," Hilliard said in a statement Monday.

GM has now admitted knowing about the switch problem for more than a decade and says it is responsible for more than 50 crashes and at least 13 deaths. Despite knowing of the problem years ago, GM only started to recall 2.6 million small cars worldwide last February.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the government's road safety watchdog, confirmed last week for Erickson's mother, Rhonda, that the crash was caused by the bad switch, Hilliard said. "For the first time in 10 years, Ms. Anderson's burden of guilt has been lifted," Hilliard said.

Erikson's mother and two daughters also are parties to the lawsuit against GM, which would not comment on the case.

Anderson also is trying to clear her criminal record, Hilliard's office said.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 191 Comments
      katv6
      • 1 Year Ago
      I had one of these cars that cut out without warning and took it to the dealer three times. I paid for nonsense like cleaning fuel injectors that they recommended because If I crashed I didn't want GM to lie and say it was something else. After calling GM in Detroit and threatening them with all the facts they finally fixed the ignition but this was before the recall or any of the ignition problems became public knowledge. I was afraid to drive the car with kids in it because it happened so frequently. And to say you can just muscle the steering wheel without the car being on is inaccurate. I did muscle the steering wheel enough to get the car to the side of the road without having an accident but I would say I am way stronger and way more experienced at driving then a teenager or twenty something girl. And I was not going fast at the time. IF you are travelling over 45 mph and need to steer you will not be able to muscle the steering wheel fast enough if you really need to use the steering wheel. The car was a great car once the ignition was fixed but that cover up drove me back to Japanese cars.
      Kim
      • 1 Year Ago
      How sad all around................
      Chuck
      • 1 Year Ago
      Bailed out by Obama. Romney was right we should have let GM file for bankruptcy like every other business that fails. But no our fearless leader knows best, Riiiight.
      coopdabomb
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is a true bottom feeder looking to get out of something and make some money.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @coopdabomb
        Bottom feeder? Look in the mirror. You'll find a true bottom feeder.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @coopdabomb
        You are an idiot. Seriously, a true bottom feeder??? Really because she blamed herself for something a greedy company knowingly caused?? Maybe you would feel differently if you were in her shoes. To live with the guilt that you caused the person you loved to die, that there was logical explanation other than it had to be your fault, so you pled guilty. (maybe to punish yourself) Then to find out that it could have been prevented and you lived with that guilt for almost 10 years!! Maybe then you would not think she is a bottom feeder for going after the people who were truly responsible.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @coopdabomb
        There's always got to be a stupid a** in the crowd. GM admitted it knew of the problem and didn't do a thing to help this lady. Learn to read the articles before you respond JACKASSA
      mike halper
      • 1 Year Ago
      GM LET PEOPLE DIE RATHER THS SPEND 57 CENTS PER CAR SUE THE HELL OUT OF THEM
      deerinmw
      • 1 Year Ago
      In 1989 I bought a used 1986 Delta 88 4-door sedan. Unpredictably it would shut off. On the highway. Making turns. Idling in traffic. Driving down the street. No rhythm or reason. It would go weeks without doing it, or do it twice in one day. No pattern to it al all. Power steering and power breaks inoperable. By throwing all my weight into it, I could barely manage to get the car off the road. Restarting was unpredicable too. Sometimes right away, sometimes any number of minutes to overnight. My mechanic tried everything to duplicate the problem (unsuccessfully). He replaced numerous parts to no avail. GM dealer/repair shops said there was no problem. It was horrifyingly scary, especially when my kids were in the car. One last attempt at a GM dealership they just suggested I just trade it in for a newer car. One month later, a formal letter arrived from GM saying my car had been in "recall" for some time and that though it was beyond the warrantly period, they would not only replace the faulty "computer prom" that was causing the shut-offs but repay me every cent I spent in trying to get it fixed (Which they did - more than $600). That was my first and last GM car. Ever. Won't buy another. I'd rather walk. As to the car in this article veering off the road into a tree - I totally understand that. Just trying controlling a 2 ton moving vehicle with essentially no steering or brakes. Once you manage to get the car turning by brute physical force, its virtually impossible to react fast enough to change course or stop the car until it coasts to a stop or hits something. Been there. Done that. It is NOT fun. Be sure to notice the years. A 1986 model, in 1989. Its a miracle we survived that car. I wonder how many other didn't?
      msmith6791
      • 1 Year Ago
      She needs to do MORE than just sue GM; she needs to file a federal civil rights RACKETEERING lawsuit again the police, the district attorney, the judges and attorneys involved, the county involved anyone else; What they did to her is RACKETEERING under Federal RICO statutes: civil and criminal racketeering - all those government people make money and enhance their careers by using their power unlawfully to oppress the citizenry - these lawsuits are starting all over the country - I can show her one and how to do it - connect me with her
      • 1 Year Ago
      Some company's have what's called a silent re call, meaning they won't tell you about it until you already have an issue and call the dealer.. This happened to me back in 2005, the service manager at the dealer explained it. That's pretty scary hopefully they made a law prohibiting these type of practices.
        nomad0343
        • 1 Year Ago
        That's a load of crap everyone...All car manufacturers have what's called campaigns where there is a part that will cause no harm, but the owners are informed to have it taken car of at their convenience or the dealer will automatically replace it free of charge when you bring the car in for normal service. Why did the sue happy girl not say anything when the accident occurred??? Why was it not said that the car suddenly stopped on her? Why was there no investigation back then. WHY because it NEVER happened...but a golden opportunity opened up for her.
      Tom
      • 1 Year Ago
      Cars still steer and still brake when the ignition switch is turned to the accessory position. You just lose the power assist. It just take more effort without the power assist. Now everybody who ever had an accident in a GM car is coming out of the woodwork looking for money. Who knows how many of them have legitimate claims and how many are just looking to scam GM?
        londonsanctuary
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tom
        Not so on cars like many GMs- including the Ion- with electrically operated power steering. No hydraulics, no pump- just a little electric motor- no power and it doesn't work.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tom
        I owned a Cobalt with the ignition switch issue. Numerous times it would lock up mid-turn, pulling out into traffic, or simply driving down the freeway. I can say with absolute certainty that there is NO WAY whatsoever to turn the wheel when it does this.
          • 1 Year Ago
          Then yours was doing something totally different from what the recall was about. When the car is gear the key can not be turned to the lock position.
        BARRY AND KATHY
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tom
        I would like you to try steering a full size car with the power steering off. Let alone a woman or old person trying. I've turned off the key while driving and it scares the hell out of yhou when the wheel and brakes don't respond . You have to push your foot right through the floorboards and really wrestle with the wheel to get any reaction at all.
          John
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BARRY AND KATHY
          Barry HA! I learned to drive on a full size 1969 Chevy Impala 4 door Sedan with NO POWER Steering or Brakes. And those are a damn sight heavier then "full size" cars of today. the problem is today drivers really way to much on power this power that stability this and that so when they fail they have no clue how to actually drive in an emergency situation. I feel that to learn to drive one must learn on a car with minimal assitence from on baord gadgets. We have a generation of drivers who do not really know how to drive!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BARRY AND KATHY
          parking lot maneuvers with out functioning power steering are difficult yes but not to the point of impossible. The brakes are set up to still have power assist for up to three pedal applications after the engine shuts off, so I don't buy the brakes were to hard to push. I have worked as a GM tech most of my adult life and this story is absurd. After this all come out I too tried to see just how hard it was to steer and stop my vehicle. 2012 GMC 2500HD 6.0L gas Crew cab, long bed pick up truck. I turned the ignition off at 60 mph coming to an exit ramp that curved 90 degrees and came to a stop at the top. No problems at all. The steering was a little heavy but not hard to steer, and the power brakes worked perfectly through the corner and coming to a stop. And remember these are little cars not full size cars or trucks.. people need to really need to understand HOW A CAR WORKS. Control is not an issue, inexperienced drivers are an issue and the fact that the airbags do not deploy when the key is in the accessory position can be an issue when people freak out and loose control.
      raidrmik67
      • 1 Year Ago
      Unreal! I hope she gets MILLIONS!
      WhoMeWhere
      • 1 Year Ago
      I feel for this woman and hope she get some closure from this. But reading this one thing really irks me... I wish non-car people could understand that brakes will work without power. It just takes pushing the pedal with some actual force. The brakes never stopped working. The force needed to work the brakes increased.
        ilenedan2
        • 1 Year Ago
        @WhoMeWhere
        What an irrelevant comment. If the brakes and steering and airbags had been working, this man would still be alive. There likely would have been no crash. There were subsequent crashes because of the failure of GM to correct a known defect and a young woman had her reputation ruined, even in her own eyes, because of their lies. IMO there should be criminal prosecution- of the GM executives who knew and did nothing to prevent her sentencing or to prevent the further accidents that happened after the defect was discovered.
          WhoMeWhere
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ilenedan2
          Irrelevant? VERY relevant. Should some read this and not know that the brakes of a car will work with the engine off that person has learned something. Something that could possibly be of use and save a life in the future. Issues with GM and the steering locking, that is another is that she could do nothing about
        sulandherb
        • 1 Year Ago
        @WhoMeWhere
        I'm guessing that at the age of 21, which she was at tht time, she was not experienced enough to know that.
          WhoMeWhere
          • 1 Year Ago
          @sulandherb
          I bet you are right. More reason to make someone learn in the oldest car possible and power nothing. No ps and no power brakes
        chasesea
        • 1 Year Ago
        @WhoMeWhere
        Kind of hard to avoid hitting a tree or whatever if your car is headed in that direction and the steering doesn't work. That is what happened to her.
      knorman1969
      • 1 Year Ago
      This goes to show that you can be innocent and still get convicted.
        David S.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knorman1969
        How do we know she wasn't driving negligently 10 years later? Presumably the car no longer exists. How nice for her. She gets to make $$$ of her fiance's death, courtesy of GM.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knorman1969
        what it shows is no one takes responsibility for what they did and always tries to point the blame at someone else like GM ... no way that would of happened from the power steering ..typical PC bs
          cazsue
          • 1 Year Ago
          Can SO EASILY HAPPEN when you lose power steering. Hope you find out.
          cazsue
          • 1 Year Ago
          Greed defender = GM troll
        ron
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knorman1969
        The guilty go free tenfold.
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