Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro managing partner Steve W. Berman ()
A prominent plaintiffs firm has moved to coordinate the rapidly growing tide of lawsuits filed over General Motors Corp.’s ignition switch recalls, which expanded on Friday to include more recent vehicle models.
The March 24 motion was filed before the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation by Seattle’s Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro—the firm that obtained a $1.6 billion consumer class action settlement over Toyota Motor Corp.’s sudden-acceleration recalls.
The motion seeks to consolidate the lawsuits before U.S. District Judge James Selna of the Central District of California, who approved the 2012 settlement while overseeing more than 300 lawsuits filed against Toyota following its 2009 and 2010 recalls for problems with floor mats and stuck accelerator pedals.
“We think that one of the things the MDL panel would be interested in is assigning to a jurist who has not only the MDL experience but has experience in class-wide auto defect litigation,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman.
The motion cites four federal lawsuits filed on behalf of GM consumers, one of them on March 14 by Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales in Corpus Christi, Tex. That case was the first brought against GM over the recalls. Additional lawsuits have been brought in the Eastern District of Michigan; GM is based in Detroit.
Since then, at least five more class actions have been filed, alleging that consumers lost value on their vehicles following the recalls. Most claim that GM knew about the defects for a decade but failed to tell consumers or federal regulators; some assert that the recalls haven’t fixed the problems.
Two lawsuits have been filed in state courts in Alabama and Minnesota on behalf of individuals who died in accidents attributed to the ignition switch defects.
GM announced a recall in February that now includes more than 1.6 million vehicles, saying that the defects might cause engines to stall and prevent air bags from deploying in crashes. The defects have been linked to a dozen deaths.
On Friday, GM expanded its recall, which initially covered various models made between 2005 and 2007, to include 824,000 cars made between 2008 and 2011.
In the multidistrict litigation against Toyota, Berman was co-chairman of the committee for the consumer class actions while Robinson, managing partner of Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis Inc. in Newport Beach, Calif., was co-chairman of the committee for the personal injury and wrongful death cases.
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