General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) Faces Hundreds of Personal Injury lawsuits

General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), on Friday, won a personal injury suit filed by the owner of a Saturn Ion vehicle it had made in 2003, claiming back injury to faulty ignition switch.


US district Judge, Jesse Furman, absolved the auto manufacturer, since GM’s lawyers established Robert Scheuer and his wife had fabricated stories against GM.  Lawyers were successful in establishing that the company faulty equipment was not responsible for Scheuer forgetting to pay a check against his home.

Non-disclosure, litigations

General Motors has been fighting several cases of faulty hardware in its vehicles. The auto maker had failed to disclose the defective equipment to Automotive Safety regulatory bodies in the country. The vehicles built between 2003 and 2008-9 included faulty ignition switches, which in some cases could have result the death or injury of passengers.

Of the several hundred such cases filed, against General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) six were chosen as ‘bellweather’ cases. These were to establish or ‘test legal theories,’ of claimants and the car manufacturer.

According to Clarence Ditlow, the Executive Director for the Center for Automotive Safety, since Scheuer’s case was not decided by the jury, the results will not influence the remaining cases.

Fines and settlements

According to Robert Hilliard, Scheuer’s case was dropped because it ran into ‘collateral issues.’  Thus it cannot be ruled as a true verdict in favour of General Motors Company (NYSE:GM).

The mass litigation cases were filed on behalf of those injured or dead due defective ignition switches. The allegations of injuries and death followed after the auto manufacturer paid $275 million last year to settle 1,400 similar cases.

Legal experts indicate that Scheuer’s trial is a rare personal injury case that was lost, despite admitted defective equipment. Hence, claimants’ lawyers’ will have to exercise great caution in selecting cases that merit jury verdict. Carl Tobias, a professor at Richmond School of Law, states that the lawyers will have to focus on the remaining cases and win them. Only if they are successful will they be able to pursue settlement under Multidistrict Litigation cases against General Motors Company (NYSE:GM).

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