GM wins its first ignition switch case
After a recent development, General Motors (GM) won its first personal injury case involving its faulty ignition switch amid charges of fraud even before the case went to trial. The case was filed by an Oklahoma postal worker named Robert Scheuer but was soon withdrawn by the plaintiff even before it could go to a jury.
This case was expected to be a bellwether case signaling whether the plaintiffs could successfully sue GM over their faulty ignition switch instead of accepting whatever settlement GM had to offer to the victims. In May 2014, a faulty ignition switch prevented the frontal air bags from deploying when the plaintiff’s Saturn Ion was hit by another car causing it to get off the road and bump into two trees. On October 10, 2014, Scheuer filed the action against GM alleging that he suffered various injuries due to the faulty ignition switch and the non-deployment of the air bag. Fleck v. GM LLC (In re GM LLC Ignition Switch Litigation), 14-MD-2543 (JMF), 14-CV-8176, 14-MC-2543 (JMF), 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173445.
Scheuer’s wife has further alleged that they had the required funds to buy their dream house but due to the accident, he misplaced the check he had kept to buy it.
On the contrary, GM has introduced evidence that is likely to prove that the allegations made by the plaintiffs regarding their dream house are false. Responding to this, the court has stated that if the same is proved, then it shall mean that the plaintiffs have committed a fraud upon this court.
According to the judge, the documents submitted by Scheuers regarding their dream home appear to have been forged by Scheuer that now casts a doubt on other claims also made by the plaintiffs.
Firstly, GM has introduced evidence that Scheuer’s Saturn Ion was not run off the road as alleged but it left the road slowly as if the driver fell asleep. The next claim made by Scheuer was that he was unconscious for about three hours in the wrecked car but evidences produced by GM show that Scheuer called his voicemail twice during the time he was injured and unconscious. Finally, as alleged by Scheuer that the accident caused him serious back pain and problems, GM was able to produce evidence showing that the back ache and problems had been existing for years before the crash. When evidence was produced, Scheuer admitted having taken the same amount of medication then and now as well. GM’s submission that the ignition switch was working properly was proved when Scheuer admitted having no reason to believe there was no power steering in his car and it went off the road.
Conclusively, the judge stated that Scheuer was more functional after the accident as opposed to what was alleged by the plaintiffs. He observed the trial to be worthless as a settlement tool and urged both sides to settle the case so that the rest of the five cases could be taken up for bellwether trial.
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