Owners of Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions affected by General Motors’ ignition switch recall will soon get one last shot at filing their $10 billion lawsuit against the automaker, which claims their cars are unsafe to drive and as a result, have lost significant value.
According to Automotive News, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber will open his courtroom today in order to speak to lawyers representing the 27 million drivers of recalled GM vehicles. Gerber is the same judge who ruled in 2009 that the automaker wouldn’t be responsible for cars made by its defunct predecessor, ‘Old GM’. Lawyers will have to convince him that those orders shouldn’t apply to them in order to go forward with their case.
If lawyers can show Gerber GM violated bankruptcy law, which states companies must tell those who have a claim that they can come to court and object, they may be able to sue ‘New GM’. The owners of the vehicles say that because they were never told they had a claim, or about the defect, they should be allowed to sue.
One lawyer representing the vehicle owners, Ed Weisfelner, said GM should have told his clients they had a claim, especially if they knew of the defect.
“If I’d shown up in court and said GM knew of the safety defect, and has known for the better part of seven years without telling anyone, resulting in numerous deaths, injuries and depreciation of value, who knows what Gerber might have said?” Weisfelner told AN.
According to Weisfelner, GM should have mailed vehicle owners letters notifying them of the government bailout and that their ability to file a claim against the automaker may be affected.
GM argues they broke no rules, as back then, they had no idea the switches were a persistent problem, AN says. The automaker wasn’t aware of how many cars were affected and in what way at the time. GM also said owners of cars with faulty switches could have followed the bankruptcy proceedings in the newspapers.
Additionally, GM said car owners don’t deserve a “windfall,” and definitely not on cars which were acquired on the second-hand market.
“The initial manufacturer has no duty or liability to a plaintiff who acquired a used vehicle in a secondary market transaction,” GM told Gerber in a filing.