April 25, 2014

If you paid attention to General Motors CEO Mary Barra’s apologies, you would think GM feels remorseful and responsible for manufacturing cars containing ignition switch defects that are associated with 13 deaths.

“We do understand we have civic responsibilities as well as legal responsibilities,” Barra said in testimony on Capitol Hill in early April.

Barra’s comments were interpreted as a signal that GM would hold itself responsible and provide compensation for the families of those whose deaths were attributed to GM’s design defects. But behind the scenes, GM’s corporate lawyers have taken aggressive steps to prevent those who were injured by GM’s negligence from seeking justice.

On April 21, General Motors’ lawyers filed a motion in U.S. bankruptcy court seeking to prevent lawsuits for economic damages related to the ignition switch recall. GM’s much-publicized 2009 restructuring agreement included a provision that protected the restructured GM from liability arising from events taking place prior to July 10, 2009. Most of the GM vehicles with ignition switch problems were made before 2009.

Thus far, GM has not sought to prevent lawsuits related to injuries, physical damages, or deaths related to product defects. GM had earlier filed a motion requesting a stay on ignition switch lawsuits until a judicial panel on multidistrict litigation rules whether to consolidate cases.

This latest move by GM demonstrates the forceful and shrewd tactics employed by the car manufacturer’s legal team. Their tactics are meant to improve GM’s profit margin and not intended to help the people whose lives have been disrupted by GM’s negligence. The aggressive posturing and strategies by corporate lawyers demonstrate why trial lawyers are needed by injured individuals and their families. When you have a trial lawyer on your side, you have an experienced professional who will resist the tactics of corporate lawyers and fight for your best interests. For corporate lawyers, the maneuvering and tactics by GM’s lawyers are par for the course.

At The Cochran Firm, D.C., our team of attorneys represents consumers, not large corporations. We take pride in our calling as trial lawyers and dedicate our careers to representing individuals injured by the carelessness of corporations like those hurt by GM’s faulty ignition switch. If you don’t have an aggressive, experienced trial lawyer on your side, you could be vulnerable to the aggressive legal maneuvers of corporate lawyers like those exhibited by GM’s legal team.