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From Products Liability Law Daily, February 19, 2015

Classification system for injuries in bellwether ignition switch MDL announced

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

A trial plan that classifies eligible bellwether personal injury and wrongful death claims pending in the multidistrict litigation arising out of alleged ignition switch defects in vehicles manufactured by General Motors has been announced by the New York federal district court overseeing the litigation (In re: General Motors LLC Ignition Switch Litigation, February 17, 2015, Furman, J.).

Background. On October 14, 2014, a consolidated complaint intended to serve as the Master Class Action Complaint for litigation claims against General Motors LLC, in connection with vehicles that contained allegedly defective ignition switches was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York pursuant to an order by that court. This complaint, which contains 151 nationwide and state class action claims, would govern for purposes of discovery, pre-trial motions and rulings, and the determination and trial of certified claims or common questions; the complaint would neither waive nor dismiss any claim not included in this proceeding except by operation of the class notice and any opt-out provisions.

Classification system. The bellwether trial plan consists of three categories of claims:

  • Category 1: Wrongful death claims involving production part vehicles with airbag non-deployment.

  • Category 2: Severe personal injury claims involving production part vehicles with airbag non-deployment.

  • Category 3: Mild to moderate personal injury claims involving production part vehicles with airbag non-deployment.

In addition to establishing these three claims categories, the court ordered the parties to come up with an agreed-upon method for distinguishing between “severe” and “mild to moderate” personal injuries claims. The court did provide a list of the types of injuries that would be eligible for inclusion in Category 2 claims. Claims involving injuries not listed would be deemed eligible for inclusion in Category 3.

The case is No. 14-MD-2543 (JMF); 14-MC-2543 (JMF).

Attorneys: Cassandra P. Miller (Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin LLC) for Ruby Woodward. Andrew Baker Bloomer (Kirkland & Ellis LLP), Anne M. Talcott (Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, PC), and Arthur Jay Steinberg (King & Spalding LLP) for General Motors LLC, General Motors Co., and General Motors Holding, LLC. Michael T. Navigato (Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, LLP) for Don McCue Chevrolet, Inc. Ilana Volkov (Cole, Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard, PA) for Dph-Das LLC. Melissa M. Merlin (Husch Blackwell Sanders, LLP) for Continental Automotive Systems U.S., Inc.

Companies: General Motors LLC; General Motors Holding, LLC; Don McCue Chevrolet, Inc.; Dph-Das LLC; Continental Automotive Systems U.S., Inc.

MainStory: TopStory ClassActLitigationNews DamagesNews MotorVehiclesNews MotorEquipmentNews NewYorkNews

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