First Ignition Switch Lawsuit Against GM May Be Invalid

The plaintiff in the first ignition failure lawsuit against GM may see his case thrown out, and could face criminal charges for check fraud.

Robert Scheuer, a postal carrier from Oklahoma, alleged that an ignition failure in his 2003 Saturn Ion caused his airbag to fail. This led, he says, to memory loss as well as neck and back pain. It was this memory loss that caused him to “misplace” a $49,500 down payment check for a home, leading to the eviction of him and his family.

However, it has recently been revealed that the Scheuer family was evicted after the real estate agent discovered that a $441,430.72 check stub from a federal government retirement account, presented as “proof of funds,” was faked.

Lance Cooper, an attorney who initially discovered the ignition defect, has called for Scheuer’s attorneys to be removed from the case. He alleges that the failure of the bellwether trial was “the culmination of a long series of poor decisions and mismanagement” on the part of Robert Hilliard, Steve Berman and Elizabeth Cabraser.

He stated that Scheuer’s case should never have been put forward as the bellwether, as the accident happened after the recall and involved “minimal injuries,’’ calling Scheuer “the very definition of an outlier.’’

Even if the check-fraud charges stick, they won’t affect GM’s liability over the defect. However, it would still be a less-than-ideal start for plaintiffs and attorneys seeking to determine legal strategy and damages.

According to Hilliard, Scheuer’s case was selected as a bellwether as a test of GM’s claim whether extra weight on key chains could cause ignition switch failures. If his case is thrown out, it could affect the viability of other claims in which drivers only used one key without extra items attached.

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