GM Faces First Safety-Defect Trial in January 2016

Nov 07, 2014 03:20 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

General Motors will face its first safety-defect trial in January 2016 as the fatal ignition switch saga continues.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in the Southern District of New York has declared Jan. 11, 2016 to be the date of the test trial, Reuters reported. Consolidated litigation against GM comprises 130 lawsuits so far, including wrongful death and personal injury claims.

The embattled automaker has called for repairs on millions of vehicles in the wake of a 2.6 million-vehicle small car recall that has been linked to at least 30 deaths. Faulty switches in models such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion could turn off the vehicle while moving if the driver's knee bumped the ignition.

The bellwether trial will involve a wrongful death or personal injury case that is yet to be selected.

Lawyers representing affected owners who are bringing the litigation wanted GM to come to trial in October 2015, while the carmaker requested June 2016; Furman's decision put the date somewhere in the middle, the New York Times reported.

GM has recalled more than 30 million vehicles worldwide this year for various issues. The automaker has set aside some $400 million in a fund to compensate those injured and the families of those killed in GM vehicles.

High-profile attorney Kenneth R. Feinberg, who is known for working on cases such as the 9/11 attacks and the Virginia Tech shootings, has been handling restitution on GM's behalf. The compensation fund, which will accept applications through the end of the year, has received hundreds of claims from GM vehicle owners. 

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