— Colorado resident, Kristin Hopkins, 45, has filed a lawsuit against General Motors after spending six days trapped in her wrecked 2009 Chevrolet Malibu.
In April 2014, Hopkins was driving a 2009 Chevy Malibu on U.S. 285 in Colorado when she encountered a curve to the right and then to the left. She made the first curve but on the left part of the curve the Malibu lost traction.
The GM lawsuit says the Chevy Malibu flew off the road and 300 feet down a steep mountain, traveled through rocks and trees, flipped numerous times and finally landed upside down.
Although her father had reported her missing, Hopkins spent the next six days trapped in the upside down 2009 Malibu miles from the nearest house. The car was nearly impossible to see 300 feet down a mountain and hidden in thick evergreens and shrubbery among the trees.
During the six days in the wrecked car the temperatures dropped to 17 degrees and the high temps were 28 to 30. Stuck with no food, water or medical help, Hopkins was floating in and out of consciousness due to numerous life-threatening injuries.
Hopkins said she grabbed an umbrella and wrote the following messages on the umbrella and slid it through the window.
“Thirsty and hungry, 6 days no food or water.” “Please help me, can’t get doors open.” “Need doctor, hurt and bleeding.”
After six days and near death, her mangled car was found and Hopkins spent weeks in the hospital undergoing several emergency surgeries.
On May 5, 2014, doctors decided to amputate her legs below the knees due to severe damage sustained in and following the crash. The next two months were spent in hospital and rehabilitation facilities.
The lawsuit says Hopkins finally arrived home and was greeted by her father holding a piece of paper. It was a recall notice mailed when Hopkins was learning to walk with prosthetics.
"This piece of mail cruelly notified her that she should take her Malibu in for repairs as its safety systems may not work if she finds herself in a crash avoidance situation." - Chevy Malibu lawsuit
Based on the recall, the lawsuit alleges the Malibu experienced increased resistance in the body control module that led to voltage problems in the brake apply sensor. This allegedly caused the traction control, electronic stability control and panic braking assist features to become disabled.
However, over a year later Hopkins received a second notice on the Malibu that said:
“This letter is intended to make you aware that on some 2009 model year Chevrolet Malibu vehicles equipped with electric power steering assist (EPS), the steering column torque sensor or the EPS motor/controller may cause the vehicle to suddenly lose EPS.”
The plaintiff claims the second recall was for a loss of power steering which is what failed in the Malibu and led to the car flying down a mountainside.
The lawsuit alleges documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show electronic brake control module failures were first seen by GM in 2008, one year after the Malibu was built and six years before Hopkins' crash.
Additionally, according to the plaintiff, an engineer who examined the car's black box determined the crash avoidance systems failed when Hopkins needed them most.
The Kristin Hopkins Chevy Malibu lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado - Kristin Hopkins vs. General Motors, LLC.
Kristin Hopkins is represented by Zaner Harden Law, LLP.