Key Consumer Victory in GM Bankruptcy Auto Products Liability
United in their efforts, California car accident lawyers, consumer groups and law firms nationwide announced a significant victory on behalf of the thousands of families who will be devastated by injuries and deaths caused by defective General Motors vehicles. The goal is to hold GM accountable for damages that any defects their pre-bankruptcy vehicles cause to the very people who will be paying for the carmaker's huge bailout. Please see previous report GM and Chrysler Bankruptcy Auto Defect Liability Provision is Disaster Waiting to Happen.
Reviewing GM's Debtor's Response to Sale Objections filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy court in New York, the carmaker represented the following: Notwithstanding the foregoing, to alleviate certain concerns that have been raised on behalf of consumers as to future products liability claims, the MPA has been amended to provide that the Purchaser will expressly assume all products liability claims arising from accidents or other discrete incidents arising from the operation of GM vehicles occurring subsequent to the Closing of the 363 Transaction, regardless of when the product was purchased.
"There is still a major unresolved issue," noted Brian Chase of the BISNAR CHASE Personal Injury Law Firm and a member of the AIEG Board of Directors. "What about all the people with claims pending? We've been getting conflicting messages on the subject. Everything from 'no money' to 'full responsibility.' We're hoping the Sale Hearing will help clarify things."
California car crash lawyer Brian Chase indicated that a team of auto products liability lawyers kept the pressure on GM. Barry Bressler, a partner at Philadelphia's Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis and counsel to the Ad Hoc Committee of Consumer Victims of Chrysler and the Committee of Consumer Victims of General Motors, deposed General Motors CEO, Fritz Henderson. Before the deposition, GM FedExed a total of 450,000 documents to AIEG -- which didn't arrive until 2:30 a.m. Friday. Yet all documents were scanned, OCR'd, coded and segregated before noon that day. A volunteer team--including Leon Russell, Chris Spagnoli, Eliot Glikman, Lydia Barrett, John Rowell and Joe Dunson--went through every document to prepare for the noon deposition on Sunday.
Additional efforts included setting up a meeting with Harry Reid and Dick Durbin's staffs and the Auto Task Force (ATF). This was followed up with a firm letter to ATF head, Steve Rattner, urging that these concerns be addressed and answered. Kudos to Public Justice trail attorneys Pete Perlman and Peter Chase Neumann for their tireless efforts.
California car collision lawyer John Bisnar noted that a sizeable team of Attorneys General, led by Conway of Kentucky and Blumenthal of Connecticut, took part in a lengthy conference call with GM representatives. The Attorneys General insisted that GM be responsible for all pending and future product liability claims. At the same time, Barry Bressler, Benjamin Deutsch and Rich Barkasy (with Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP) have been continuously negotiating with interested parties.
Brian Chase was one of many California car crash lawyers who acknowledged Larry Coben for his planning and foresight. Months before Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, Coben sounded the alarm, established two new corporations and sent letters sent to both Chrysler and GM demanding a seat on the Creditors' Committee (two seats in GM were secured). Coben found a counsel and urged the team to follow a multi-pronged tactic. Also to be commended is Chris Spagnoli who found the PR and lobbying consultants, set up media opportunities, lobbied in Washington and worked every aspect of this struggle.
Additional key contributors were Bob Langdon and Kent Emison on the political side, Leon Russell on the Bankruptcy Committee, and Rob Palmer on the GM Creditors' Committee with Larry Coben. Tireless lobbying efforts of Senators and Congresspersons were immensely helpful.
Finally, major credit should also go to those who have so generously contributed to help fund this effort. Still, the fight continues. Provisions must be made for GM's pending claims, and Chrysler must be revealed as the only car company that refuses to stand behind the safety of its vehicles. Contributions are still needed and all those who support this effort are urged to step up.
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