GM wins ruling that might slim ignition change litigation

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Normal Motors Co on Thursday received a court docket ruling that might scale back the non-public litigation it faces over flawed car ignition switches, which have been linked to 124 deaths and triggered an enormous recall.

U.S. District Decide Jesse Furman in Manhattan stated the plaintiffs in two bellwether circumstances, involving accidents the place airbags had deployed, couldn’t introduce professional testimony to point out how faulty ignition switches may need performed a job within the crashes.

The plaintiffs stated their GM ignition switches may need rotated from “run” for the time being of influence to “accent” or “off,” inflicting the accidents or making them worse, after which again to “run” earlier than the airbags deployed.

However Furman, who oversees multi-district litigation (“MDL”) over the ignition switches, together with 213 circumstances the place airbags deployed, referred to as the professional testimony “unreliable” as a result of there was no proof that “double change rotation” occurred wherever.

“The court docket acknowledges that these conclusions could have a big influence on a swath of circumstances now pending within the MDL and, thus, doesn’t attain them calmly,” the choose wrote.

Furman stated his position is “to make sure the reliability and relevancy of professional testimony,” and the opinions of the plaintiffs’ specialists “don’t cross muster.”

Bob Hilliard and Tamar Lusztig, two legal professionals for the plaintiffs, didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

David Caldwell, a spokesman for Detroit-based GM, stated the choice “reinforces our strategy to contest circumstances that lack benefit, whereas being open to truthful decision of circumstances which have extra benefit in response to the information and the regulation.”

GM has paid greater than $2.6 billion in penalties and settlements, together with $900 million to settle a U.S. Division of Justice felony case, over ignition switches that might trigger engines to stall and stop airbags from deploying.

The most important U.S. automaker has recalled greater than 2.6 million autos over the defect since February 2014.

As of Nov. 30, there have been 1,723 unresolved private harm and wrongful dying claims within the multi-district litigation, together with the 213 the place airbags deployed, a court docket submitting reveals. GM has additionally settled claims associated to greater than 1,700 claimants.

Thursday’s choice dismissed claims by Vivian Garza, who was 19 when her Chevrolet Cobalt crashed on an icy freeway in Alice, Texas, in February 2011.

It additionally dismissed claims by the son of Ruby Greenroad over the January 2013 crash of her 2007 Cobalt within the Houston space. Greenroad died at age 90 the next yr.

The case is In re: Normal Motors LLC Ignition Swap Litigation, U.S. District Courtroom, Southern District of New York, No. 14-md-02543.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Enhancing by Phil Berlowitz and Grant McCool

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