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Coordination of Related Actions Discussed at GM Ignition Switch MDL Conference

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On June 9, 2014, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) transferred all pending federal GM ignition switch lawsuits into one court in the Southern District of New York. Judge Jesse M. Furman was appointed to oversee the pre-trial proceedings.

On January 20, 2015, the attorneys involved in the litigation met with Judge Furman in a status conference. According to the joint agenda, the parties were to discuss a number of issues concerning the cases, including coordination of related actions.

What’s Happened in the MDL So Far

Since the GM MDL was established last June, Judge Furman has taken a number of steps to move the litigation forward. In August 2014, he appointed lead counsel for the cases—lawyers with experience leading similar cases against Toyota, and a plaintiffs’ lawyer from Texas.

In September 2014, the judge ordered all relevant documents submitted to the court, including those that GM gave to the NHTSA and to Congress regarding the ignition switch recalls, and documents given to lawyer Anton Valukas for the internal company investigation. (That investigation resulted in the “Valukas report” on GM’s mishandling of the ignition switch problem.)

At that time, Judge Furman also ordered the parties to preserve evidence from the recalled vehicles, including power steering motors, ignition switch parts, air bag wiring harnesses, and more.

Status Conference January 20, 2015

In November 2014, Judge Furman ordered GM to submit performance evaluations on 32 people, all either current or former employees of the company. These included people who were interviewed as part of the Valukas report, some of whom were identified as having failed to notify senior executives about ignition switch problems.

For the January 2015 status conference, parties were expected to discuss the following issues:

• Plaintiff fact sheets
• Coordination of related actions
• Discovery related to post-recall repair complaints
• Deposition protocol
• Electronically stored information/preservation issues
• Confidentiality issues

So far, the MDL is on track to produce an initial bellwether trial in January 2016.

Plaintiffs Seeking Compensation in Court and Through GM’s Settlement Fund

At least 130 GM ignition switch lawsuits are pending in the New York MDL. That number continues to grow as more plaintiffs file claims in courts around the country, as well as in New York. At the same time, GM is processing additional claims through the settlement fund that it created last August. This fund was set up to provide compensation to plaintiffs who can prove that they were injured or that a loved one was killed because of issues related to the ignition switch defect. As the deadline of January 31, 2015 approaches, the fund has received over 2,700 claims.