On June 9 the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered a number of lawsuits against General Motors, claiming its deadly ignition switch defect undermined the value of their cars, to be transferred to a federal court in New York for consolidated pretrial proceedings. The JPML selected the Southern District of New York federal court as the venue for the suits partly because of GM’s bankruptcy proceedings there. U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman was selected to hear the suits. The panel noted that he has heard appeals linked to GM’s bankruptcy. The panel said in its transfer order:
Several judges in this district, including Judge Jesse M. Furman, have heard appeals related to General Motors’ bankruptcy and, therefore, have some familiarity with the common defendant and its bankruptcy proceedings. Judge Furman is an experienced transferee judge with the ability to handle these complex proceedings expeditiously.
Personally, I am totally satisfied with this court and with this judge to handle the economic loss cases. At the time of the transfer order, the litigation involved at least 15 suits pending in six districts, as well as dozens of related suits that could be potential tagalong actions. GM asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert E. Gerber in May to bar the suits, claiming that a sale order that paved the company’s path out of Chapter 11 shields its new company from liability for the recalled vehicles, all of which were manufactured pre-bankruptcy.
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