The lawyers for the Georgia family that is now trying to reopen their wrongful death lawsuit against the company say the automaker is trying to move the case to a federal court – and then use the bankruptcy shield against the claim.
Lance Cooper and Jere Beasley, the plaintiffs lawyers, are now trying to reopen a case settled before the ignition switch recall became public – with Ken and Beth Melton suing three years ago the automaker for the death of their daughter, Brooke Melton, in 2010. She died in a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, which was allegedly due to the power loss related to the defective part, which caused the 29-year-old nurse lose control of the car. The case was reopened in May because the plaintiffs claimed the carmaker fraudulently concealed evidence.
Since February, GM has been constant in the news with its mishandling of the defective ignition switch, which stemmed the recall of 2.6 million cars and is so far linked to 54 accidents and at least 13 deaths. The company was proven to have waited more than 10 years before issuing the recall, due to poor corporate structure and the faults of some of its employees.
The move to take the state case to a federal court could potentially preview how the company intends to treat some of the claims – with the federal court making it accessible to the company to direct claims to the “old” GM, the company that acted before the 2009 bankruptcy and restructuring. So far, the company hired Kenneth Feinberg to set up a fund for the compensation of victims and families, but so far has not said how, when and which claims would be accepted after August 1.