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Attorneys involved in federal General Motors (GM) recall lawsuits, over problems with ignition switches used in millions of vehicles that may suddenly shut off and prevent airbags from deploying, are scheduled to meet tomorrow with the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation on Tuesday.
According to a joint agenda (PDF) submitted by both plaintiff and defense attorneys in advance of a status conference set for January 20, the parties are expected to review with the Court several key issues necessary to move forward claims stemming from personal injuries, deaths and economic losses suffered by owners of the recalled vehicles.
All of the claims stem from recalls issued last year for defective ignition switches used in millions of different GM vehicles. The problems may cause vehicles to suddenly shut off if heavy key chains are used or if the ignition is jarred, such as may occur in an accident, potentially causing drivers to lose control of their vehicles or preventing airbags from deploying. Hundreds of accidents and injuries have been linked to the recalled GM vehicles in recent years.
Since June 2014, all lawsuits filed against General Motors over the defective ignition switches have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in the Southern District of New York, as part of a Multidistrict Litigation, or MDL.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, Judge Furman has established a bellwether process for scheduling a series of GM ignition switch trials in the MDL, with the first case expected to go before a federal jury in January 2016.
The status conference is expected to address coordination of recently filed claims, issues involving plaintiffs’ fact sheets that are to be submitted in each case, and ongoing document production by General Motors, as well as other subjects.
While a growing number of complaints continue to be filed in state and federal courts nationwide, several thousand claims have also been filed with a GM victim’s settlement fund established by the auto maker, which has a filing deadline approaching on January 31. According to the latest figures released by the auto maker, the settlement fund has received about 2,700 claims of personal injury or wrongful death stemming from problems with about 2.6 million GM small vehicles recalled in February 2014.