In March 2010 Brooke Melton took her Chevy Cobalt in to the dealership because the car had lost power while she was driving it. The dealership looked at the car and found nothing wrong with it. On her way home from picking up the car from the dealership, the car mysteriously lost power again causing an accident. Brooke Melton died in the accident.
Lance Cooper, a solo practitioner in Marrietta, Georgia, took up the case on behalf of the Melton Family. With the help of two experts, Cooper found that the car had lost power due to a faulty ignition switch, as opposed to a problem with the power steering column, as preliminary investigations suggested. The Melton family sued General Motors, and in the ensuing litigation GM was compelled by the court to release documents revealing that General Motors knew about the faulty ignition switches in its vehicles as far back as 2005 and had quietly worked to replace the switches without a major recall. Cooper won a confidential settlement for the Melton family, and that settlement forced General Motors to make an initial recall of 2.5 million vehicles. Since the original recall, General Motors has issued forty four more recalls, totaling some 28 million vehicles worldwide. The incredible impact of the Melton v. General Motors case got Lance Cooper nominated for Public Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year award.
This video was one of five that I produced for Public Justice this past summer as a team member at Rich Tolsma Productions. Thanks to John Nolan at Rich Tolsma Productions for the nice title and lower third graphics and to Victoria Schneider and Doreen Lundrigan at The Cooper Firm for providing photos from the case.