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Two more deaths identified by GM ignition-switch program

By Jessica Dye

NEW YORK, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Two additional deaths have been attributed to a faulty ignition switch in General Motors Co (Symbol :GM) vehicles, bringing the total to 35, according a report on Monday from the lawyer overseeing a program to compensate for deaths and accidents linked to the part.

As of Friday, the program, which began accepting claims on Aug. 1, had received 2,180 claims for injuries and deaths, an increase of more than 3 percent from a week earlier, according to the report from the office of lawyer Kenneth Feinberg.

Overall, the fund has received 225 claims for deaths, 139 for catastrophic injuries and 1,816 for less-serious injuries requiring hospitalization. Of those, claims from 35 deaths, five severe injuries and 39 other injuries have been deemed eligible for the program.

The report said 215 claims were deemed ineligible, while 455 claims lacked sufficient paperwork or evidence and nearly half - 1,076 - had no documentation at all.

GM has hired Feinberg, who ran high-profile victim compensation funds for the Sept. 11 attacks and Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to handle an out-of-court compensation program to pay claims on behalf of people injured or killed because of the switch.

The part, which can slip out of position and cut power to critical vehicle systems, prompted the recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year.

The original deadline for claims submissions was Dec. 31, but GM recently agreed to extend that to Jan. 31.

GM has said it gave Feinberg free rein to determine who to compensate and would not challenge his decisions.

Eligible death claimants can receive more than $1 million. The amount of compensation has not been capped, and GM has set aside at least $400 million to cover its costs.

Shares of GM were up 0.2 percent at $32.19 in morning trading.

Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page, go to http://www.superlawyers.com/maine/lawyer/Timothy-E-Zerillo/ab011be9-fc96-44e9-ad28-3956da48c1b4.html

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