U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in the Southern District of New York set the trial date for the first General Motors ignition switch lawsuit for January 11, 2016 — more than two years after the public learned of the ignition switch failure. The plaintiffs asked the judge to start the bellwether case’s trial on October 2015 and G.M. requested a June 2016 date for this bellwether case.
What Does This Mean To A Driver Injured By The Switch?
To date, more than 130 lawsuits have been filed against G.M. alleging that a defective ignition switch resulted in personal injuries and wrongful deaths. The cases have been consolidated into multi district litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.
Multidistrict litigation refers to a special federal legal process
whereby the discovery phase of multiple cases against the same
defendants involving similar issues and pending in different courts are
handled in one court. This streamlines the pretrial process, reduces
costs of litigation and expedites discovery. Actual litigation of the
case occurs in the appropriate jurisdiction.
The bellwether case is the first to be tried and sets the tone
for future litigation on the matter and indicates the possibility of
settlements in the other cases. The bellwether case against G.M. has not yet been chosen but will be one that addresses the primary issues of the
multiple cases. G.M.’s and the plaintiffs’ attorneys participate in
choosing an appropriate bellwether case, with each side looking for the
most advantageous case to be tried first.
The word comes from Medievel times when farmers tied a giant bell to a castrated ram (a wether) at the front of a flock of sheep so they could track their movement.
Justice for Victims Of General Motors Negligence
General Motors issued a recall
of vehicles in February of 2014 because of a malfunction in the
ignition switch that caused it to shut down the motor, steering, brakes
and airbags. The recall has grown into the largest in history during the past nine months. However, the company was aware of this deadly defect
years earlier. Almost weekly, shocking new revolutions come to light
about what General Motors principals knew and did to protect the
company. People died and suffered horrific injuries while G.M. took
steps to avoid liability, rather than to fix the problem.
The lawsuit will bring some measure of justice to the victims of
G.M.’s unconscionable negligence, but sadly, these tragedies could have
been avoided had the company put the lives of its customers before its
own financial interests.