Readers have, by now, probably heard about the legal issues surrounding GM’s recall of 1.5 million cars due to a defective ignition switch. Consumers have filed lawsuits not only for economic damages based on the recall, but also for wrongful death and fraud. One of the potential challenges for plaintiffs, though, is that GM may have immunity from liabilities dating before its 2009 exit from bankruptcy.
The company’s immunity has been challenged under a doctrine known as successor liability, which makes successor corporations liable for the debts and liabilities of its predecessors. In this case, the reason is that GM is alleged to have committed fraud during the bankruptcy regarding the extent of its liabilities. It remains to be seen whether lawyers will be successful in making this argument.
When it comes to holding companies responsible for defective products, it is important that consumers understand both the law and the process of product liability litigation. This knowledge is important to have during negotiations, so that the consumer understands how to best advocate for his or her own interests.
In addition, product liability litigation can involve several different types of claims depending on the state in which the litigation is taking place. Calculating damages is another important aspect of these cases. Without a strong damages case, there is little possibility of an adequate recovery.
Because of these and other issues, working with an experienced product liability attorney is important for consumers who have been harmed by a defective product. Doing so will help ensure the best possible result in their case.
Source: Detroit News, “GM’s immunity in recall questioned,” David Shepardson, March 31, 2014.