On June 11 General Motors (GM) filed a notice of removal in an attempt to move the Melton lawsuit behind the protection of its “old GM” bankruptcy instead of living up to the promise by its CEO to do the right thing by victims of its ignition switch defect, which it now admits is linked to more than 13 deaths. Ken and Beth Melton, parents of 29-year-old Brooke Melton, who was killed in a 2010 crash linked to the ignition switch defect, refiled their wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their daughter on May 12. Rather than leaving the civil liability lawsuit in the State Court in Cobb County, Ga., where it was filed, GM is now attempting to remove the Melton case and all other against the company transferred to a federal court in New York in the Multi-District Litigation (MDL).
Lance Cooper, founder of The Cooper Firm, which originally filed the Melton case, says, “GM’s actions in Melton speak louder than Ms. Barra’s words. GM understands the Meltons have a right to have their case heard in Cobb County State Court since that is where their case against GM and Thornton Chevrolet was previously pending. Yet, GM is doing whatever it takes to prevent the Meltons from having their day in Court, even going so far as to accuse the Meltons of fraud in filing the lawsuit. Contrary to Ms. Barra’s repeated promises, GM continues to do the wrong thing.”
“This is an attempt to stall for as long as possible in the Melton case and other post-bankruptcy cases, to avoid putting GM officers, lawyers, engineers and other employees under oath for depositions. I believe not having to face discovery in the Melton case is GM’s real goal,” said Beasley Allen Founding Shareholder Jere Beasley. “They have to know that the bankruptcy order clearly won’t apply to post-2009 deaths and injuries. In fact, GM has stated that position both publicly and privately. So GM’s real goal in the Melton removal is to stall, stall and stall, hoping the public will forget how bad the company has been and its victims will give up. We will continue to fight hard for our clients and other victims and will do everything we can to hold GM’s corporate feet to the fire. We look forward to the discovery phase of the Melton case and getting a number of GM folks under oath in Cobb County, Ga.”
When GM CEO Mary Barra addressed her employees and the public June 5, she expressed sympathy for victims and their families, saying, “I realize there are no words of mine that can ease their grief and pain. But as I lead GM through this crisis, I want everyone to know that I am guided by two clear principles: First that we do the right thing for those who were harmed; and, second, that we accept responsibility for our mistakes and commit to doing everything within our power to prevent this problem from ever happening again.” Later in her speech, she said again, “… we are going to do the right thing for the affected parties.”
In February 2014, only after evidence emerged in the Meltons’ original wrongful death lawsuit that showed GM had longstanding knowledge of the ignition switch defect, did the company start recalling its affected vehicles. That recall now encompasses 2.6 million vehicles, and GM admits to at least 13 deaths related to the defect. June 16, GM announced it is recalling an additional 3.4 million midsize and large cars for the same ignition switch defect.
Beasley Allen and The Cooper Firm have filed lawsuits related to the ignition switch defect. Lance Cooper, founder of The Cooper Firm, is the lawyer who first discovered GM’s ignition switch defect and uncovered the automaker’s cover-up, which finally led to massive recalls.
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