— LaKisha Ward-Green was driving a 2007 Chevy Cobalt on September 3, 2010, when the Cobalt slammed into a school bus and a utility pole on a Pittsburgh road, killing 16-year-old passenger Robert Chambers. The authorities determined Ward-Green was driving 75 mph although the posted speed limit was 35 mph.
In 2012, Ward-Green pleaded guilty to reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Robert Chambers. Ward-Green had served three months in jail when her attorneys filed an appeal based on GM's public admission of selling cars with defective ignition switches.
Those switches, including the ignition switch in the 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, are prone to moving out of the "run" position and into the "accessory" or "off" position. With the ignition switch turned off, a car immediately loses all power brakes, power steering and most importantly, the use of the airbags.
The argument put forth of behalf of Ward-Green was simple. Even if she was speeding, the ignition switch in the 2007 Chevy Cobalt caused the airbags to fail in the head-on crash.
Texas-based attorney Bob Hilliard (pictured top right with LaKisha) and Pennsylvania attorney Victor Pribanic successfully argued before Allegheny County Judge Philip Ignelzi that Robert Chambers would likely still be alive if the airbags would not have failed due to the ignition switch.
Mr. Hilliard said the event data recorder in the Cobalt showed the car was indeed traveling 75 mph just five seconds before the crash but traveling only 35 mph three seconds later.
Hilliard believes this is when Ward-Green took evasive action to avoid another car and the movement of the Cobalt caused the ignition switch to move out of the "run" position. In the split-second that occurred, the car lost the power steering, power brakes and airbags.
Based on three hours of testimony, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas’ Judge Philip Anthony Ignelzi overturned both the reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter convictions.
“An innocent woman was convicted of involuntary manslaughter only because GM's sole concern was hiding its own evil conduct even if it meant Lakisha would go to jail." - Attorney Bob Hilliard
Bob Hilliard is the same attorney who helped another GM car owner who had been convicted of a crime because of a defective GM ignition switch. In November 2014, Candice Anderson was cleared in the death of her fiance Gene Erickson after pleading guilty to criminal negligent homicide.
(Lakisha Ward-Green's 2007 Chevy Cobalt)