General Motors (GM) has been doing everything in its power to stall discovery in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New York and to completely stop discovery in the Melton case in Georgia. Fortunately, each of those efforts has failed. Both U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman (the MDL Judge) and Judge Kathryn Tanksley (the Georgia State Court Judge) have let it be known that discovery will go forward – both in the MDL and in the Melton case – and that’s good news for all of the persons and families who have been victims of GM’s massive cover-up of the ignition switch defect that has killed and injured hundreds.
Judge Furman ruled on Sept. 19 that Plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation will be allowed to pursue discovery in injury cases that involve accidents that took place after the automaker emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, and in economic loss cases that involve post-2009 vehicles. Judge Furman said in his order that he had consulted the bankruptcy judge considering GM’s bid to invoke its bankruptcy shield to dismiss most suits stemming from the ignition switch defect, and concluded that the discovery in those cases would be required regardless of the bankruptcy court’s decision.
The MDL comprises about 116 cases, roughly 100 of which GM is trying to get dismissed by enforcing the terms of its bankruptcy sale order. A small number of those claims involve post-2009 accidents and post-2009 vehicles. Those claims will require discovery no matter what Judge Robert Gerber in the bankruptcy court decides on whether GM can enforce its sale order, Judge Furman said. He stated in the order:
Moreover, delaying discovery would, in the court’s view, reduce the willingness of courts presiding over related cases to coordinate their efforts with those of this court and to defer to the schedule and orders adopted by this court. That is, proceeding now with discovery on the claims not subject to New GM’s motions to enforce — on a reasonable, but aggressive schedule — is the best way both to advance this litigation and to promote coordination with related cases, two of the primary goals of this court.
The Melton case is going to be a definite asset to individuals who have claims against GM regardless of where their cases are located and that includes death and personal injury cases that are in the MDL. We are now ready to proceed in Melton with document discovery followed by depositions of key individuals who were involved in the massive cover up. A great deal of progress has been made and the future prospects for this litigation appear to be very good.
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