Lawyers appointed as temporary counsel in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) against General Motors (GM) for lost value of its vehicles have told the federal judge overseeing the litigation that the automaker should submit all pre-discovery disclosures and other documents it has already released to federal officials investigating GM’s handling of recalls over ignition switch failures.
GM has already released a substantial amount of discovery to government officials, including the House Energy & Commerce Committee, a Senate Commerce subcommittee, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the lawyers argued. Those disclosures have not been released to the public, and attorneys involved in the MDL currently have no access to them.
“It would not burden GM, which has already gathered the documents, and immediate production will undoubtedly streamline and substantially advance the litigation,” the attorneys wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, who is overseeing the MDL in a New York federal court.
The economic-loss lawsuits stem from an ignition switch flaw that has affected millions of GM vehicles in the U.S. In February, GM announced the first recalls of 2.6 million smaller cars. The number of vehicles subject to subsequent recalls for ignition-related problems has since swelled to 7.5 million.
Many owners of GM vehicles, including Pontiac, Buick, Saturn, Chevrolet, and Cadillac cars and trucks, seek damages from the automaker, alleging the ignition switch defect that the company kept secret for years contributed to a loss in the value of their vehicles.
The faulty ignition switches can slip out of “run” position to “accessory” or “off” when the key is jostled by a heavy key chain and/or bump in the road. This cuts off power to the engine, disabling the airbags while cutting off power steering and anti-lock brakes. Evidence shows that GM knew about the problem for more than a decade before it acknowledged the problem existed and issued the first recall in February.
According to Law360, the attorney also argued they should have access to more than 40 million documents and witness statements compiled by attorney Anton Valukas, whom GM hired to conduct an internal investigation of the ignition switch problem.