Any lawsuits concerning the economic damages of General Motors’ ignition switch recall will be heard in Manhattan, according to Reuters. The decision was made by a federal judicial panel, advancing the unfolding drama that is shaping up to be more convoluted than a whole season of Days of Our Lives.
All of the economic damages cases will be presided over by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman from the Southern District of New York. The move effectively consolidates the lawsuits, which so far number over 80 and will likely grow. Behind the lawsuits are angry vehicle owners who claim that that much-publicized recall has seriously hurt the value of their vehicles.
GM is petitioning the same federal district, which is where it filed for and left bankruptcy, to rule whether the company’s bankruptcy terms block the lawsuits or not. The automaker is again arguing that it emerged from bankruptcy as the “new GM” and has shed its old, erroneous, and completely backwards ways.
Whether the court will buy that argument or not is anyone’s guess. The public, in general, still seems to be incredibly skeptical that GM has really changed at all. While it’s true that GM has been producing more compelling vehicles since it went bankrupt, the fact that it still did not come clean on the ignition recall situation before well over a dozen people died is keeping the PR department up at nights.
This motion from GM will in no way exonerate the company from legal liability surrounding personal injuries and deaths triggered by the faulty parts.
The attorneys representing the plaintiffs had trouble agreeing on where to consolidate their cases. Some suggested Miami, New Orleans, Texas, San Francisco, and even Los Angeles, where the cases against Toyota were heard. In the end, the federal judicial panel chose the Manhattan district since it was where both GM and Delphi Automotive Plc (the parts supplier that made the ignition switch) both filed for bankruptcy.
Does this mean that the judges in Manhattan will go easy on GM and Delphi? Not likely, according to one of the attorneys who is representing several GM consumers.