July 6, 2009
Barring a successful appeal by some crash victims, the General Motors bankruptcy is a done deal. Over the Independence Day holiday weekend, Judge Robert E. Gerber of the federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan declared independence for General Motors from all previous liabilities. On Sunday, Gerber approved the sale of the automaker’s assets to a consortium consisting of the governments of the U.S. and Canada and a health trust owned by the United Auto Workers union. The parties were racing to beat the Obama administration’s clock of a bankruptcy and sale by Friday. The deal is expected to close on Thursday, after the judge’s four-day stay runs out.
Plaintiffs alleging defects in crashes that occurred before June 1 are, for the moment, SOL. Their only hope now lies in Congressional interference. Indiana Congressman Andre Carson has filed the Jeremy Warriner Consumer Protection Act after Jeremy Warriner, who lost both legs and suffered severe burns in a vehicle fire he alleges was sparked by a faulty brake fluid container on his 2005 Jeep Wrangler. The bill would require the newly-restructured GM and Chrysler to carry liability insurance and force the carmakers to cover claims made against them for any defective products produced by their predecessor company
“Justice shouldn’t be a roll of the dice – but in this case apparently it is – particularly for those who were injured or killed prior to the bankruptcy” says Sean Kane, president of SRS. “I don’t know how either GM or Chrysler expects to build on a brand when they walked away from their responsibilities. It’s un-American and Americans aren’t going to forget.”
And that’s mainly because victims and consumer advocate groups aren’t going to let them. Post-July-fourth fireworks, anyone?