GM class action cases consolidated, to be heard before Judge Jesse Furman

The Southern District of New York was "the most appropriate choice" for the cases, because "the court is the site of the bankruptcies of both General Motors and Delphi."

The class action cases filed against General Motors are set to be combined and heard in New York City.

Recently, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided to send the GM cases to U.S. District Court Judge Jesse Furman, who is assigned to the Southern District of New York.

Appointed by President Barack Obama, Furman is a graduate of Harvard and Yale Law School, and also studied at Oxford.  He was a law clerk for then-U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey, who later became Attorney General. He also clerked for Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jose Cabranes, a former lawyer for Yale University, and then clerked for Associate Justice David Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court. Furman has also worked at Wiggin & Dana, a law firm based in New Haven, CT, and was an Assistant United States Attorney, and later was counselor to the U.S. Attorney General.

In response to the news, Attorney Adam Levitt, a director at Grant & Eisenhofer in Chicago and head of that firm’s Consumer Practice Group, who is among the attorneys representing plaintiffs in the cases, said that the JPML made an “excellent transferee judge choice in Judge Furman” and that he looks forward to “prosecuting this important case before Judge Furman in the Southern District of New York.”

“At the JPML hearing, I advocated for the panel to transfer all of the GM Ignition Switch defect cases to the judge who the panel believed was best-suited to oversee these cases and move them forward,” Levitt said in a statement to InsideCounsel.  “In selecting Judge Furman as the transferee judge, the panel ensured that the cases will be in front of an insightful and thorough judge who we are confident will be able to get down to the critical issues in this litigation quickly, comprehensively, and efficiently.  We look forward to the opportunity to litigate these cases before him.”

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The panel concluded the Southern District of New York was "the most appropriate choice" for the cases, because "the court is the site of the bankruptcies of both General Motors and Delphi."

Many attorneys representing plaintiffs originally wanted the cases heard in California, but that proposal was later rejected.

In consolidating the cases, it stands to combine more than 80 defective ignition-switch lawsuits, most of which claim economic losses. Some 2.6 million cars were recalled as a result of the defect. The defect was also tied to at least 13 deaths.

“Monday's decision by the seven-judge panel to send the cases to Manhattan doesn't impact the lawsuits over personal injuries or deaths allegedly caused by the ignition default,” The Wall Street Journal pointed out in a story.

Meanwhile, there is increasing focus on the legal department at GM as investigations continue on the company’s controversial response to the ignition switch defect, InsideCounsel reported.

Contributing Author

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Ed Silverstein

Ed Silverstein is a veteran writer and editor for magazines, websites and newspapers. A graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, he has won several...

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