April 23, 2021

Attorneys complain GM’s compensation plan falls short

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Kenneth R. Feinberg-Article-201406301851By Amanda Bronstad, The National Law Journal

General Motors Co. unveiled its plan to compensate victims of its ignition-switch defect on Monday, but plaintiffs lawyers complained that the program leaves out a large number of their clients, many of whom will pursue their cases in court.

The uncapped fund, announced by claims attorney Kenneth Feinberg, would pay millions of dollars to families of people killed in accidents caused by the defects, which forced GM to recall 2.6 million cars. It also would pay those who were seriously or moderately injured.

Lawyers representing those victims said they were still evaluating the details, but were quick to complain that the program fell woefully short.

“I think Mr. Feinberg has made a very sincere effort here in trying to come up with what he considers to be an appropriate plan, but it’s limited by what GM is letting him do,” said Lance Cooper, founding partner of The Cooper Firm in Marietta, Ga. “It’s going to be reasonable for some cases, and in others, victims and clients will want to have their day in court.”

For one thing, the plan is limited to the 2.6 million cars recalled in three batches beginning in February over the ignition switch defect, but the automaker has issued additional rounds of recalls since then. Late Monday, in fact, GM announced six recalls involving 8.4 million vehicles worldwide because of ignition defects. Earlier in June, it recalled nearly 3.2 million cars to rework or replace ignition keys plus more than 500,000 Chevy Camaros because of ignition problems.

The plan, while a “good start,” needs to parallel the scope of the recalls over ignition problems, said Elizabeth Cabraser, a partner at San Francisco’s Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein.

“I realize there have been serial recalls, and there may be some catching up to do,” she said. “But it is involving the same key-system defect, and so it just makes sense to us that the program would include those. And that may be a matter of discussion with GM.”

The plan excludes accidents in which airbags deployed. During a June 18 congressional hearing, several officeholders raised concerns that limiting the plan to crashes in which airbags failed would reduce GM’s liability; the defect, by shutting down engines, could disable other features, such as power steering.

Plaintiffs attorneys echoed that concern. “For GM to eliminate all those crashes where an airbag may have deployed is likely leaving out families from the plan who should be part of the plan,” Cooper said.

Anyone who accepts a payout must waive all legal claims against GM. Plaintiffs lawyers, many of whom unsuccessfully pushed for punitive damages to be part of the plan, said clients in some states might pursue those claims in court.

IMAGE: Kenneth R. Feinberg Diego M. Radzinschi / NLJ

For more on this story go to: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202661465449/Attorneys-Complain-GMs-Compensation-Plan-Falls-Short#ixzz36ELzUYlP

See also iNews Cayman related story dated June 30 2014 “GM recalls over 450,000 more vehicles, some in Canada” at: http://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/gm-recalls-over-450000-more-vehicles-some-in-canada/

 

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