A panel of judges has announced that lawsuits seeking economic losses as a result of the General Motors ignition switch recall will be consolidated and heard in New York federal court, according to the Wall Street Journal. The decision was announced in a three-page-order on Monday.
Over 80 civil lawsuits have been filed against GM stemming from the massive 2.6 million vehicle recall announced by the automaker earlier this year. The majority of those suits claim economic losses due to repairs and devalued resale costs. Monday’s ruling will consolidate those suits and send them to U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman. Furman will handle all pretrial rulings related to the cases.
The New York court was deemed by the panel to be “the most appropriate choice” for the suits because it is the same court that handled bankruptcy proceedings for both GM and Delphi. Additionally, Furman has some familiarity with the cases, having heard appeals related to the GM bankruptcy.
Last month in Chicago, lawyers argued over where the cases should be sent. Some lawyers urged for Southern California where the Toyota lawsuits had been heard.
The ruling does not affect the small handful of serious injury and wrongful death cases that have been filed against GM. Plaintiffs’ lawyers say there are several hundred more such cases that could be filed depending on the terms of a GM compensation fund that are expected later this month.
In April, GM announced it had tapped attorney Ken Feinberg to develop a GM fund to compensate the families of those killed or seriously injured in accidents involving the recalled vehicles. Last week, both CEO Mary Barra and President Dan Amman confirmed that Feinberg would be given sole discretion over who is eligible and how much victims can receive. GM expects to begin accepting claims as soon as Aug. 1.
Thomas J. Henry is representing more than 1,000 GM recall victims across the United States and has been investigating injuries and deaths linked to the recall since day one. The firm launched a nationwide media investigation into the recall in April, which brought forth thousands of affected individuals who had information critical to the investigation – information that the firm has handed over to federal agencies also investigating GM’s sluggish response the recall. As more and more individuals have flocked to Thomas J. Henry for representation, the firm has continued to push GM for a victim settlement fund. The firm has had several talks with GM’s victim compensation expert Ken Feinberg regarding appropriate victim compensation for the thousands affected by a fatal design flaw in ignition switches which left numerous dead and countless others seriously injured.