The first lawsuit for damages relating to General Motors’ ongoing ignition switch saga will go to trial Monday, in federal court in Manhattan. It is one of six “bellwether” cases, designed to test legal arguments and strategies. Three of those six were selected by the defense, three by the plaintiffs.
The first case is brought by Robert Scheuer, whose 2003 Saturn Ion lost power to its brakes, steering, and air bags, causing it to run off of a highway and smash into a tree in May 2014. Scheuer suffered neck and back pain, missed 169 days of work, cannot lift more than 20 pounds, and still needs surgery, according to his lawyer, Robert Hilliard.
This is not one of the strongest claims against GM, but a tough trial right out of the gate could prove to be a worthwhile test for plaintiffs’ lawyers.
Attorney Bob Langdon, who represents a group of plaintiffs suing the company for injury or death claims, said, “the facts are good for GM in that one. It’s not a big injury.’’
GM, meanwhile, maintains that Scheuer’s accident was not caused by an ignition switch failure. Jim Cain, a spokesman for the company, said, “GM will show the ignition switch did not rotate and the air bags were not designed to deploy in this accident.”
Scheuer also used a single key at the time of the accident; recalls advised drivers not to attach additional objects to the key ring as weight could cause the ignition switch to go out of alignment.
Hilliard alleges that both of GM’s claims are false, and he points to incidents when the switch turned off without extra weight, and in which the company admitted responsibility and has paid settlements.
Read more about the first GM ignition switch lawsuits here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-08/gm-ignition-nightmare-won-t-go-away-for-victims-or-company