A young lady was involved with a car crash that ended up killing her fiancé who was in the front passenger seat. Despite the serious injuries she survived but was charged with intoxication manslaughter after blood tests revealed a slight amount of prescription sedatives. She pled guilty and received community supervision for 5 years.
A lawsuit was then filed against GM the maker of the Saturn Ion by this accident victim and was settled out of court. Evidence later showed that 5 months before the woman pled guilty, GM had conducted an internal audit of the accident and determined it was the car at fault, not the woman. The car had a defective ignition switch that caused the car to turn off and lose power to the steering, brakes and airbags. GM never informed the woman or her attorney about this defect.
The woman then filed a state petition of writ of habeas corpus seeking to vacate the conviction after finding out about the defect.
The police and prosecution both admitted if they had known about this defect they would have viewed the case quite differently. The former prosecutor even wrote a letter siding with the letter after finding out about the defect and said the grand jury likely wouldn’t’ have indicted her for manslaughter if they had known.
The female driver had the habeas petition granted and the judge issued an order of acquittal. GM later recalled 2.8 million vehicles for possible ignition switch defects. 67 deaths were also attributed to the ignition switch defects. The woman filed a lawsuit against GM but withdrew it to pursue compensation from the company through the company compensation fund.