Wellborn Paluch, LLP Blog

Sunday, August 21, 2016

New York Court to Allow Faulty GM Ignition Switch Lawsuits to Proceed

The past several years have seen a dramatic influx of automobile recalls. The issues plaguing the auto industry include everything from falsified emissions data to fatally defective airbags – and virtually everything in between. As you have undoubtedly read, General Motors is facing mounting scrutiny over its allegedly defective ignition switches, which are implicated in the deaths of 124 motorists and serious injuries to hundreds more.

As a result of the rampant and widespread personal injuries allegedly caused the ignition switches, victims and their surviving family members filed lawsuits against the automaker, seeking compensation for physical harm, medical expenses, pain, suffering, and – in the most severe cases – funeral and burial costs.

As a matter of procedure, General Motors promptly filed what is known as a Motion for Summary Judgment – a motion asserting that there are no genuine factual disputes for a jury to weigh, and the lawsuits must be dismissed. When deciding a summary judgment motion, the judge hears the preliminary evidence gathered thus far, and determines whether there is an actual factual dispute between the parties (i.e., the matter should proceed to a jury trial). Under the rules of civil procedure, the court must weigh the facts and evidence in a light most favorable to the plaintiff/victim, as these hearings generally occur very early on in the case and the plaintiff usually does not have sufficient time to gather the necessary evidence to fully prosecute their case.

In the General Motors proceedings, General Motors made the preliminary argument that anyone injured by the allegedly faulty ignition switches should be precluded from recovering any sort of compensation if the injury occurred prior to its 2009 bankruptcy. At the hearing, the judge overruled this argument and held that the case could proceed to trial. Thereafter, General Motors appealed the ruling, and lost again. In sum, the Appeals Court held that, despite General Motors emerging from bankruptcy in 2009 free from pre-bankruptcy liabilities, the  Court was not willing to exclude injured victims from the list of “pre-bankruptcy liabilities” – thereby allowing those victims their day in court.

Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today

If you were recently injured in a motor vehicle accident and would like to discuss your rights, please contact Wellborn Paluch today: 1-716-254-2554 or toll free at 1-844-855-HURT. 

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