Local Family Wins Suit Against GM Over Faulty Car Part

Boekamp Family Says Faulty Part In 2005 Corvette Sparked Fire That Destroyed Home

An East County family was awarded $3.4 million as part of a lawsuit against General Motors over a faulty part in a 2005 Corvette.

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"Two hours after my wife came home and parked the car in the garage, the car caught fire and took the 5,300-square-foot house with it," said Herbert Boekamp.

In addition to their home, the Boekamps lost their 2005 Corvette and a classic 1962 Corvette in the January 16, 2010, fire.

According to the lawsuit filed by the family, a faulty telescoping steering column in Patti Boekamp's 2005 Corvette is what sparked the fire.

"Had it been another minute, we both would have died," said Herbert Boekamp who was awakened by the smell of smoke.

The home had a number of hard-wired smoke alarms that did not function because the fire burned the circuits.

"We moved into this home after we got back from our honeymoon; that was nearly 29 years ago," said Patti Boekamp.

When the Boekamps made it out of the burning house, Herbert Boekamp spotted a trail of gasoline that leaked out of the garage.

"When the car melted down, the gas rolled out of the garage and caught the outside of the home on fire; that was the first clue that it was the car," he said.

The couple filed suit against GM, and a jury agreed that the automaker was at fault.

"I can forgive them for having a problem in the car, but the way they treated us I can't forgive. I'll never buy another GM product again," said Herbert Boekamp.

The Boekamps want to rebuild but can't until the legal issues are solved.

A judgment will be entered against the automaker Monday, leaving GM 60 days to appeal.

The company has indicated it will appeal the judgment.

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