General Motors Co filed a motion in a US court to enforce a bar on lawsuits stemming from ignition defects in cars sold before its 2009 bankruptcy as it fights proposed class action litigation that seeks to set aside the restriction.
Plaintiffs suing the company also filed a proposed class action lawsuit in Manhattan bankruptcy court last week, seeking an order declaring that GM cannot use the bankruptcy protection to absolve itself from liabilities.
The faulty ignition switch has been linked to at least 13 deaths and the recall of 2.6 million GM vehicles.
GM emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2009 as a different legal entity from the so-called old GM. Under those terms, the “new GM” shed liability for incidents predating its exit from bankruptcy, and any lawsuit involving pre-bankruptcy issues must be brought against what remains of old GM.
“New GM’s recall covenant does not create a basis for the plaintiffs to sue new GM for economic damages relating to a vehicle or part sold by old GM,” the company said in a filing in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
The motion did not address claims stemming from accidents, including personal injury and wrongful death. GM has said it is committed to replacing the defective switches in cars.
“GM has taken respon- sibility for its actions and will keep doing so,” spokesman Jim Cain said in an emailed statement.
The company recognises its “civil and legal obligations relating to injuries” tied to the recall cars, Cain said, adding that GM has retained lawyer Kenneth Feinberg to advise it of its legal options.
Feinberg is known for his work in administering special payment funds for high-profile catastrophes like the September 11, 2001 attacks and the BP Plc oil spill.
Late last Tuesday, US Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber in New York issued an order setting a procedural conference for May 2 to determine how the case should move forward, saying that “no substantive matters will be decided.”
Also last Tuesday, GM said it was restructuring its engineering operations to improve the quality and safety of its vehicles.
Since it began to recall vehicles in February, GM has been hit by dozens of lawsuits on behalf of individuals injured or killed in crashes involving recalled cars, as well as protection from liability.customers who said their vehicles had lost value as a result of the company’s actions.
The plaintiffs have said they bought or leased vehicles that had the defective ignition switch and accused GM of fraudulently concealing its knowledge of the defect. As a result, they said, the company was not entitled to protection from liability.
“GM’s argument suggests that the US Government would have agreed to extend $4o billion of taxpayer money for GM’s restructuring, and supported shielding it from liability through the sale order, had it known of GM’s intentional misconduct,” the plaintiffs said in their lawsuit.
In its filing, GM asked the court to direct the plaintiffs to stop suing new GM for claims that are barred by the bankruptcy sale order and the injunction, and to dismiss the earlier claims.
“GM’s filing last night was a preemptive attempt to dominate the discussion about its so-called concern for the damages caused by defects it has been aware of for nearly ten years,” Mark Robinson, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.
Resource from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal May 1,2014