WILKES-BARRE — A Dallas man severely injured in a 2011 car crash has filed a nine-count civil lawsuit against General Motors LLC, and a GM dealership in Erie, alleging the Pontiac he was driving had a defective ignition switch.
Damon Szatkowski, 20, and his mother, Karen, filed the suit Monday in Luzerne County Court through Philadelphia-based Ross Feller Casey, LLP.
Szatkowski, then 17, suffered severe and permanent brain and physical injuries when the 2006 Pontiac Solstice he was driving suddenly veered into a retaining wall along North Street in Luzerne on Dec. 3, 2011.
According to the civil suit, the air bags did not deploy as they should have.
“Unbeknownst to Damon Szatkowski, the 2006 Pontiac Solstice had a serious and unreasonably dangerous defect with the ignition switch. Specifically, the ignition switch had the ability to change from the run position to the accessory position thereby causing the engine to lose power with a resultant loss of power to the steering, brakes, air bags and other essential safety functions of the car,” the suit says.
The suit alleges the Pontiac was purchased new by Szatkowski’s uncle, Jeffrey Pyros, at Rick Weaver Buick & Pontiac in Erie. Pyros purchased the Pontiac because of the car’s quality, reliability and safety features, according to the suit.
Szatkowski suffered severe brain trauma, a fractured skull and cervical and spinal injuries that left him with permanent and physical dysfunctions.
“Damon’s heroic struggle, which he lives every day as a result of GM’s reckless conduct, is an object lesson for GM about the kind of values, like commitment, diligence and fortitude, that should guide the company,” said attorney Matt Casey, brother of U.S. Sen. Robert Casey and a Scranton native. “And in order that others don’t suffer the same preventable, catastrophic injuries Damon has, we intend to impart those lessons to General Motors in the only place a private citizen like Damon has that kind of power, the civil courts.”
The suit alleges GM knew about defective ignition switches in several of their manufactured vehicles, including the Pontiac Solstice, well before Szatkowski crashed into the retaining wall.
GM issued an information service bulletin to its dealers in 2005 warning about a stalling problem related to inadvertent shifting of the ignition switch.
More than two years after the crash, GM issued a recall of certain vehicles, including the Pontiac Solstice, for defective ignition switches.