Visit our offices in Kansas City, Liberty, St. Joe,
or our Virtual Office

Car owners’ lawyers accuse GM of threats in ignition switch deal

Friday, Nov. 3rd 2017

Brendan Pierson, Tina Bellon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lawyers for car owners suing General Motors Co (GM.N) over faulty ignition switches and other defects on Thursday accused the carmaker of meddling in settlement talks and having issued threats that led to the canceling of an agreement.

The GM logo is seen at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Valencia, Venezuela April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Under a deal with a trust that holds many GM liabilities from before its 2009 bankruptcy, the automaker would have been forced to pay $1 billion in shares to resolve millions of claims.

The claims stem from GM’s 2014 recall of 2.6 million vehicles with defective ignition switches, including one linked to 124 deaths. They have since expanded to include millions of financial loss claims and hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death claims.

The agreement, first disclosed at a court hearing last week, had been five months in the making and was confirmed, a plaintiff lawyer, Edward Weisfelner, told a New York bankruptcy court on Thursday.

Representatives of the trust had not yet signed the deal, but Weisfelner said he still considered the agreement enforceable.

But after a meeting with GM on Tuesday, the trust suddenly reversed course and in a court filing on Wednesday said it had accepted GM’s offer to help pay for the trust to defend against the car owners’ claims in exchange for dropping the agreement.

“We uphold, but have no reason to know this for a fact, that the trust’s about-face was the subject of…some very direct, very serious threats issued either by GM or GM’s professionals,” Weisfelner said.

Lawyers for GM and the trust, who were also present in court, rejected the allegations.

“I was at that meeting. The concept that there were any untoward threats or anything illicit…it just did not happen,” said Keith Martorana, an attorney for the trust.

GM’s lawyer, Arthur Steinberg, said he did not consider the previous agreement between the trust and the plaintiffs to be binding because it had not been signed.

Bankruptcy judge Martin Glenn said he had to take allegations over threats seriously and ordered both sides to agree on a discovery process to unearth the details of the discussions that led to the agreements.

He also said he would not approve any of the settlements before the parties briefed him on how they would go about obtaining evidence.

“Anybody who negotiates a settlement with you better be careful as you might pull the rug out from underneath them after months of negotiations,” the judge told Martorana.

GM said in a statement that it was optimistic its agreement would gain the upper hand.

“The judge has outlined a process to begin to resolve the issues raised. We will follow the process, and we look forward to the eventual approval of our settlement agreement,” it said.

The original settlement would have called for the trust to accept $10 billion in claims to resolve about 11.9 million allegations over economic loss and between 400 and 500 personal injury and wrongful death claims.

About 2.4 million claims, involving vehicles sold after GM’s bankruptcy, would have remained pending in another court.


Posted in General | No Comments »
Google 5 Star Rating Motor Vehicle trial Lawyers Top 25 Hurt In An Accident?

Personal Injury

If you’ve been injured and aren’t sure where to turn, let us help. We represent individuals in many areas of personal injury including truck, auto and motorcycle accidents, property liability (slip & fall), spinal cord injuries, and more.

Worker's Comp

Injured at work? We can help! If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, we can help ensure you get full and fair compensation under the law.


Our Personal Injury & Worker's Comp Attorneys

Northland Injury Law: Personal Injury Lawyers in Northland Kansas City and Northwest Missouri.

Proudly serving: Gladstone, Liberty, Kansas City, North Kansas City, Saint Joseph, Plattsburg, Cameron, Chillicothe, Trenton, Sedalia, Warrensburg and many other areas in Missouri.

The Northland Injury Law Firm has been practicing in the Kansas City area for many years. Our founders, Max Von Erdsmannsdorff and Steve Mowry, built a strong foundation for the firm. Since Eric Bartlett joined the firm in 1996, Northland Injury Law has earned a reputation for success, honesty and compassion in personal injury and worker’s compensation.

I found Northland Injury Law to be very professional and honest! They kept me up to date on my case. I would highly recommend the whole firm for all your legal needs!!” – Michael T.

Northland Injury Law is proud of the relationships they’ve built with the clients they have served in the Northland and surrounding areas.  Their many great results for seriously injured people have helped their clients recover the significant economic losses that attend such serious injuries.

When it comes to a lawsuit after an accident or injury, representation matters! Most people do not realize that insurance companies have teams of lawyers, investigators, photographers and defense experts who immediately go to work following a serious accident involving their insureds.  They hire these people to minimize their exposure throughout the claims process and to reduce the amount received by the victim. Northland Injury Law aims to level the playing field for their clients.

This is an excellent law firm. They helped me out after an accident and did an awesome job. I would recommend this law firm to anyone who needs a good lawyer.” – Toni B.

Between them, Mr. Mowry and Mr. Bartlett have over  50 combined years of legal experience in the Kansas City Northland area. They have both been recognized by KC Magazine as “Top attorneys in Missouri and Kansas” and both have been recognized in the National Top 100 Trial Attorneys.

If you require the services of excellent local lawyers after an accident or injury, call Northland Injury Law today for a free consultation at 816-400-4878.

Latest Blog

How To Choose A Personal Injury Attorney

Accidents don't come with a warning, leaving you grappling with injuries and a complex web of legalities. It's the kind of situation that can thrust you into a whirlwind of uncertainty, where decisions matter more than ever. A guiding hand...

Read More

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers about our Kansas City law firm, like how and when to file a suit for your Personal Injury & Worker’s Compensation.

View All FAQ's


Northland Injury Law © All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy

Site Created by KC Web Specialists, LLC

Skip to content