GM sued Fiat Chrysler in November over alleged racketeering. The case has sort of ambled along since, but got interesting a couple weeks ago when the judge in the case got upset and wrote one of the most entertaining legal orders I’ve ever read. After that, GM wanted the judge off the case but this week was told that isn’t happening.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said in its decision Monday that U.S. District Judge Paul Borman could still preside over the course despite calling it a “waste of time and resources.” The court also said that Borman abused his power when he ordered GM CEO Mary Barra and FCA CEO Mike Manley to meet privately to settle the case.
From the order:
Without any prior input from the parties or their counsel, the district judge: (1) singled out the parties’ highest ranking officers; (2) required that they meet face-to-face; (3) did not account for the risks involved in traveling during the COVID-19 crisis; (4) ordered them to report back to the court in only eight days; and (5) took these measures for reasons unrelated to the case. We conclude that issuance of the writ is warranted. We do not mean to say, however, that the district judge may not order a pretrial settlement conference and/or mediation in the normal course.
Borman had said that the suit “will not only divert and consume the attention of key GM and FCA executives from their ‘day jobs’—issues of vehicle production, sales, worker safety, roll-outs, supplier issues, etc.—but also prevent them from fully providing their vision and leadership on this country’s most pressing social justice and health issues,” referring to the Black Lives Matter movement and the coronavirus pandemic.
Where the case goes from here is now, again, up to Borman, though mediation or a settlement conference—two things the appeals court said they were not prohibiting him from ordering—seem likely. I’m also not sure Borman would’ve been mad, exactly, if the case had been reassigned, but I like that he’s able to stick around to resent the case every further step of the way.