GM Agrees To Potential Settlement With 1,380 Ignition Switch Victims [UPDATE]

Illustration for article titled GM Agrees To Potential Settlement With 1,380 Ignition Switch Victims [UPDATE]

The official death toll from GM’s faulty ignition switches that it knew about but failed to recall stands at 124, with many more injured. News came out last night that GM would settle with the government for $900 million in the criminal case, but it also just agreed to settle for a further $575 million in the civil case with 1,380 victims.

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From GM’s statement on the settlement, which resolves a pending class-action lawsuit:

They include more than half of the personal injury plaintiffs who have lawsuits pending in the Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

“The parties to these agreements have resolved difficult claims without the burden, expense and uncertainty of litigation,” said Craig Glidden, GM executive vice president and general counsel.

As a result of these settlements, the company will record a charge of $575 million in the third quarter.

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It’s unclear whether or not anyone else will be eligible as they come forward, nor are further details about the settlement forthcoming just yet.

If 100 percent of the money went equally to only the victims in the settlement here, each would be receiving a little over $415,000, though much of it will likely be handed over for attorney’s fees.

And though GM says that this represents “more than half” of the personal injury plaintiffs, that can still leave a bunch of lawsuits pending.

UPDATE: GM spokesperson Jim Cain noted in a series of emails that the settlement isn’t actually valued at $575 million, but rather that $575 million is the company’s best guess as to what the settlements will end up costing:

The $575M covers two settlements. There is the securities class action and the Hilliard cases.

We’re breaking out how much for each because, for the moment, we are bound by confidentiality agreements. We have to make certain formal filings with the court.

...

All of the plaintiffs represented by Hilliard are potentially part of the settlement except for five who are part of the six bellwether trials that begin in New York in January. These are injury/death cases that will be tried as part of a process the court follows to help assess the value of similar claims. Plaintiffs who are covered by the settlement can opt out. There will be a process for approving and resolving claims.

$575M is our best estimate of the cost of the Securities Class Action Settlement PLUS the Hilliard settlement.

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The two settlements involve not only the ones brought about through personal injury, but also a lawsuit brought by GM shareholders (led by the New York State Teachers Retirement System) that alleges that investors bought into GM shares right as GM was covering up the ignition switch failures.

Hilliard, in this case, refers to Bob Hilliard, who was appointed lead attorney for all personal injury and death cases caused by GM’s defective ignition switches.

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Hilliard released his own statement as well, reading in part:

It is clear from today’s news regarding the 900 million dollar agreement between GM and the Department of Justice, and the deal we have negotiated for my clients, that GM is determined to resolve parts of the ignition switch litigation where it feels it is most exposed.

Lives were taken and families were devastated and there is no way to ever change that sad fact. Still, this agreement will allow some healing, as GM recognizes, through its payment of financial compensation, the needlessness of this enormous national tragedy.

There remains inside the MDL approximately 370 injury cases and 84 death cases. I look forward to continuing to aggressively help these victims find justice through the consolidated national litigation. Also, 6 cases will remain on the Court’s trial docket, with the first jury trial to begin in January 2016. In 4 short months a Manhattan jury will be seated and will have an opportunity, through its verdict, to speak to GM’s cover up and the human consequences of that cover up.”

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Photo credit: AP


Contact the author at ballaban@jalopnik.com.
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