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From Products Liability Law Daily, July 13, 2015

Class action complaint charges government with taking of successor liability rights against New GM without just compensation

By Kathleen Bianco, J.D.

A class action lawsuit was filed by a number of individuals on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated against the United States Government claiming that the government unlawfully took their right to seek successor liability without just compensation for injuries caused by defective ignition switch systems in vehicles manufactured by General Motors (Old GM) against Old GM’s successor, a U.S. Treasury-sponsored entity (New GM), which purchased substantially all of Old GM’s operating assets in a sale approved by the GM Bankruptcy court (the 363 Sale) that closed on July 10, 2009. (Campbell v. United States, July 9, 2015).

Background and allegations. Callen Campbell, Kevin C. Chadwick, James H. Chadwick, Judith Strode Chadwick, the Tyler Junso Estate, Kevin Junso, and Niki Junso (Plaintiffs) on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated held prepetition claims estimated to be worth $300 million in the General Motors bankruptcy case based on deaths and personal injuries caused by defective motor vehicles manufactured, sold, or delivered by General Motors Corporation and affiliates (Old GM) before June 1, 2009. Plaintiffs contended that through a bankruptcy court-approved sale the U.S. Government took from all personal injury claimants, without just compensation, their rights to assert successor liability claims against Old GM’s successor, New GM, a Treasury-sponsored entity. New GM purchased substantially all of Old GM’s operating assets in a sale approved by the GM Bankruptcy court that closed on July 10, 2009. The plaintiffs allege that the taking of these rights violated the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the standard by which the propriety of governmental action is judged, which provides that no private property shall be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The plaintiffs further assert that the sale agreement that the government had aggressively pushed forward relegated class members to the status of general unsecured creditors of Old GM, which severely limited their ability to recover for their damages.

Relief. The complaint seeks certification of the class action and monetary judgment to plaintiffs and other class members, estimated at no less than $200,000,000 in the aggregate, for damages sustained as a result of the permanent taking of their rights to assert successor liability claims against New GM, along with pre-judgment and post-judgment compound interest and any and all further costs, disbursements, reasonable attorneys’ and expert fees, and any other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

The case is 15-717 C.

Attorneys: Steven R. Jakubowski (Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.) for Callan Campbell.

MainStory: TopStory ClassActLitigationNews MotorVehiclesNews

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