Lawyers cry foul over GM

The Hill
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Consumer groups and trial lawyers are crying foul over the Obama administration’s bankruptcy plans for General Motors and Chrysler.
Those plans would extinguish all ongoing auto accident claims that blame a death or serious injury on a defective GM or Chrysler vehicle.
“It’s a raw deal for consumers,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.
Ditlow said the plans are unusual in that they would prevent anyone from bringing a future liability claim against GM or Chrysler if a car already purchased from either company is defective and results in an accident causing death or serious injury.
He and others said it was also unusual for no money to be set aside for liability claims. When companies producing asbestos went bankrupt, some funds were set aside for such claims, Ditlow said.
Pam Gilbert, of Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca LLP in Washington, said Obama’s auto task force should have looked out more for consumers and those with liability cases as it negotiated the complicated bankruptcy plans for both companies.
She notes that the administration is guaranteeing warranties issued by GM during its bankruptcy, meaning someone could get a broken exhaust pipe found to be defective fixed even while GM is in bankruptcy.

Those set to attend include the family of an ABC cameraman killed when the roof of his GM Suburban caved in during an accident, as well as the families of several children who suffered broken necks and blame faulty seatbelts, according to the Center for Justice and Democracy, a New York-based consumer group.

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