GM ignition switch trial dismissed

GM ignition switch trial dismissed

The first bellwether trial involving the General Motors ignition-switch recall has been dismissed amid perjury accusations. "The apparent lies the plaintiff and his wife told the jury ended the trial early, and we are pleased that the case is over without any payment whatsoever to Mr. Scheuer".

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, who oversaw the Scheuer trial, had harsh words for the plaintiffs Thursday afternoon, when he granted GM's request to show jurors evidence that Scheuer and his wife, Lisa, had fabricated the story blaming GM for their eviction.

GM delivered almost $600 million in settlements to the families of the 124 fatal victims and 275 injury victims identified by outside attorney Ken Feinberg, who analyzed the legitimacy of compensation applications.

Judge Furman said on Thursday if GM's account of the misleading testimony is correct, it might show that the "plaintiff and perhaps his wife have committed a fraud on this court". The judge said the new evidence would probably be "devastating" to the case.

GM lawyers had noted earlier in the trial that Scheuer had a lengthy history of surgeries and pain medication prescriptions for back pain and claimed that calls from Scheuer's cellphone contradicted his claims that he was unconscious for three hours after the accident.

"This case is officially dismissed and the trial is obviously over", Judge Furman said during court proceedings on Friday morning. He urged both sides to consider whether it was sensible to begin focusing on five other bellwether trials scheduled for later this year.

Since the jury never got to weigh the postman's case on the merits of the faulty ignition switch itself, the failed litigation won't affect the remaining cases, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Automotive Safety.

Robert Scheuer, 49 years old, had sued GM alleging a defective ignition switch disabled the air bags in his 2003 Saturn Ion during a May 2014 crash in Oklahoma. The switches can slip out of the on position, causing the cars to stall, knocking out power steering and turning off air bags.

Detroit-based GM claimed Scheuer had doctored a federal- government check stub to provide "proof of funds" to move into the family's new home.

"To have any trial end in such an unexpected and unfortunate way is disappointing, especially given the time and effort we put into getting ready", Scheuer's attorney, Robert Hilliard, said Friday.

Still, he said he thought Mr. Scheuer had a "strong shot" at winning his case before the recent developments. The company also paid $575 million to settle other lawsuits, including some from victims and shareholders.

"In light of the court's ruling and comments, we are discussing with GM all options", he said.

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