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GM fund approves 2 more death claims

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

General Motors Co.’s independent ignition switch compensation fund said Monday it has approved two more death claims, bringing the total to 35. The number of approved injury claims remained unchanged at 39.

The automaker has offered compensation to people injured or families of those killed in crashed linked to its delayed recall of 2.6 million older Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars. Last week, GM agreed to extend the deadline for filing claims until Jan. 31 at the request of fund administrator Ken Feinberg. That’s nearly three times the 13 deaths GM initially linked to the problem.

The number of claims filed over the last week rose by 75 to 2,180.

The number of claims for deaths rose to 225 — up from 217. Claims for very serious injuries rose to 139 — up from 128.

Of the 225 death claims, 33 have been ruled ineligible, 77 deficient and 51 without documentation. Another 29 are currently under review. Overall, Feinberg has ruled 215 ineligible and says documentation for 455 are deficient. Another 355 are under review — up by more than 60 over the previous week.

In an interview last week, Feinberg said the majority of the claims submitted without documentation have come from two lawyers — but he has no idea how many of the cases will be followed up with supporting documents.

In May, GM paid a record-setting $35 million fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the delayed ignition switch recall, and agreed to up to three years of monitoring. The delayed recall has prompted investigations from the Justice Department, Congress, 48 state attorneys general, the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal regulators.

GM has said it expects to spend $400 million on claims, but has said they could rise as high as $600 million.

The fund has made 11 cash payments and 40 total offers — and 28 have been accepted, deputy fund director Camille Biros said recently.

The fund will pay at least $1 million for each death claim, along with $300,000 payments to surviving spouses and children for pain and suffering. In addition, it will calculate the economic value of the life lost.

DShepardson@detroitnews.com