General Motors on Friday said it has agreed to settle a lawsuit stemming from a 1993 car fire that resulted in a $US1.2 billion punitive damage award against the car maker, Reuters reported, adding that GM spokeswoman Brenda Rios declined to provide details of the settlement, including the amount that GM would pay.

Reuters said that, in July 1999, a California jury ordered GM to pay $4.9 billion to six people who were burned in 1993 when their 1979 Chevrolet Malibu exploded after being hit from behind by a drunk driver. A month later, a judge cut the $4.9 billion judgment, said to be the largest product-liability decision ever, to $1.2 billion, the report added.

The judge wrote that GM placed the Malibu's fuel tank behind the axle "in order to maximise profits, to the disregard of public safety," Reuters added.

Rios on Friday told Reuters that GM "remains confident in the performance of the Malibu, which has had an outstanding safety record for many years."

GM had been appealing the case before reaching the settlement, Reuters noted.

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