We have posted several times over the past few years about the major recall and consequences of faulty ignition switches in General Motors’ vehicles. One case garnered a great deal of attention when the parents of a young Georgia woman who died due to a faulty ignition switch, sued GM. About 125 deaths were originally considered to be due to the faulty switches. Now there are more. The defective devices resulted in the recall of 2.6 million vehicles. Since the early stages of this recall, there are now hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death cases.
According to Reuters, attorneys for vehicle owners with defective switches who have suffered various damages, including fatal injury, are on the verge of losing a deal they were about to enter into with a trust holding GM assets. The plaintiffs lawyers are calling foul on GM, arguing that the company interfered with resolving the case through settlement using unsavory tactics, including threats. The “deal” would have resolved millions of claims, although about 2.5 million would have remained in another court. It took nearly half a year to come up with the settlement which now is at risk of unwinding. The trust, which maintains pre-bankruptcy assets of the company, was integral to this deal.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys are claiming that General Motors met with trust representatives and put undue pressure on the trust to pull away from the resolution of this huge case. Immediately after this meeting, the trust reneged on the deal they had reached (although had not yet signed) with the plaintiffs. Although no agreements had been signed, the negotiations were months and months of work for both the plaintiffs’ attorneys and the trust representatives.
But in court documents, the trust revealed it had decided to follow a different approach with GM. That approach is a very different one than the resolution plaintiffs thought they had reached. Apparently General Motors would instead assist in defending the plaintiffs’ claims. This was allegedly on condition that the trust pull away from the resolution verbally reached with plaintiffs.
The company maintains that there was no such threat or ill-will involved. The judge now wants the parties to engage in discovery to determine exactly what happened at the meeting that unraveled the hard fought resolution.
Time will tell whether the claims are resolved in an expeditious process. The judge seems intent on keeping the matter on track to resolution. Perhaps the parties can reach an agreement and at least will receive guidance from the court on the future of these claims and how they will be resolved.
Scholle Law keeps our clients and friends informed about many areas of the law involving defective products, personal injury and wrongful death matters. We will return to the ignition switch claims when there is more news about the possible resolution of claims. Until then, if you need assistance after an accident, please contact our law firm at any time for a free consultation. We can help you and your family recover from accident or injury with skill, expertise and the highest legal ethics.