GM seeks U.S. court protection against ignition lawsuits

Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:39pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - General Motors Co filed a motion in a U.S. 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 on Monday, 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 on Monday 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 responsibility for its actions and will keep doing so," spokesman Jim Cain said in an emailed statement.

The company recognizes 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.   Continued...

 
An engineer shows the ignition assembly which has a faulty 2005 ignition switch in a file photo.