The judge presiding over General Motors’ lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has ordered the two automakers to meet and try to resolve the matter to avoid an expensive, drawn-out court proceeding that may last years.
According to Automotive News, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman ordered General Motors CEO Mary Barra to meet with FCA CEO Mike Manley before July 1st to try and reach an agreement over the case. Judge Borman believes that allowing the case to work its way through the court will be a “waste of time and resources for the years to come,” and will hurt both companies in the end.
“These legalities will not only divert and consume the attention of key GM and FCA executives from their day jobs – issues of vehicle production, sales, worker safety, rollouts, supplier issues etc. – but also prevent them from fully providing their vision and leadership of this country’s most pressing social justice and health issues,” Judge Borman said, as quoted by AN. “I mean directly, not through committees that they may set up.”
GM sued FCA last November under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), alleging FCA corrupted UAW negotiating processes by offering bribes to top UAW officials. GM also claims FCA did this with the specific intent of weakening GM’s financial standing, which would then force it to enter a merger with the automaker. Former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, who died in 2018, had previously approached Barra about entering a merger with FCA.
GM remains adamant that it has a good RICO case against FCA, though it will adhere with the court order to meet with FCA officials.
“GM has a very strong RICO case and we look forward to constructive dialogue with FCA consistent with the court’s order,” the automaker said in a statement.
Judge Borman also said that GM and FCA should focus on the health of their companies amid the COVID-19 pandemic – especially since both automakers were bailed out by American taxpayers amid the 2009 financial crisis.
“Today, our country needs and deserves that these now healthy, great companies pay us back,” he said.
FCA echoed this sentiment, saying “we also agree that FCA’s focus should continue to be – as it always has been- on building great vehicles for our customers and expanding opportunities for the thousands of women and men whose livelihoods depend on that focus.”