Lawyer files to reopen GM wrongful defect lawsuit over ignition defect
May 13, 2014 04:38 PM EDT
The Georgia attorney who had initially filed the wrongful death lawsuit that pushed General Motors Co to issue a recall of over 2 million cars has filed a new complaint to revive the case, Bloomberg reported. Lawyer Lance Cooper did his latest legal maneuver yesterday in a Georgia state court in Marietta, asking a judge to reopen the matter that the US automaker has already settled with clients in September over grounds that GM fraudulently withheld information prior to the settlement.
The initial case was about the death of 29-year-old Brooke Melton, who had died in a car crash in 2010. Bloomberg said Melton's 2005 Chevy Cobalt reportedly lost power due to the defective switch, which resulted in the deathly accident. The news agency said the refiling of Melton's lawsuit could help generate more information about what GM knew about the faulty switches and up to what level of management did the knowledge about the defective switch problem traveled. The company had since acknowledged that there were 13 deaths linked to the defective switches in the past decade ahead of the vehicle recall.
According to the complaint filed by Cooper on behalf of Melton's remaining family members, GM engineer Ray DeGirogio had lied under oath last year when he denied allegations that he had knowledge about the defective switch. DeGiorgio in 2006 had reportedly signed off a request to change the part's specifications, based on another document provided by GM. Cooper is also seeking sanctions against the Detroit-based automaker over the supposed misconduct it made.
On the other hand, Carl Tobias, who teaches product-liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia said about the chances of Cooper to win the court's approval to revive the case, "(Proving fraud is not an easy task because) courts are reluctant to reopen tort settlement agreements. (As a result, they) impose a rigorous proof burden on those who seek to do so."