Exclusive - GM crash victims' families who settled may revisit deals

RELATED QUOTES

SymbolPriceChange
GM31.705+0.175
EMR53.90+0.17

By Jessica Dye, Julia Edwards and Paul Lienert

(Reuters) - Two families who settled with General Motors Co over fatal crashes linked to faulty ignition switches are considering trying to overturn the agreements, after the company disclosed it had known about the issue for years.

The lawyer of one family said he could challenge the agreement, alleging that the automaker fraudulently covered up the problem, and his clients intended to try. A second family also told Reuters it is preparing to try to break the deal and then sue GM. Neither family has yet done so, however, and trying to win such actions will be difficult.

To undo a settlement, plaintiffs would have to convince a judge that they were intentionally misled or defrauded by the other party, according to legal experts and plaintiffs' lawyers. If the families were successful in setting aside the settlements, they could then sue GM.

GM, which on Friday increased a global recall of vehicles because of the ignition switch problem by almost a million to nearly 2.6 million, declined to comment on specific suits or pending litigation. In a statement it said: "We deeply regret the circumstances that led to the recall. We have launched an internal review to give us an unvarnished report on what happened. We will hold ourselves accountable and improve our processes so our customers do not experience this again."

Courts are often reluctant to undo settlements, which are the main means of resolving personal-injury and wrongful-death cases, said Frank Vandall, a professor at Emory University School of Law and a product-liability expert.

Each settlement would have to be challenged individually, since the deals depended on the laws of the state where the settlement was reached, the facts of the case and the terms of the individual agreement.

With a sophisticated litigant like GM at the table, it's likely any agreement would be "very well-drafted and difficult" to break, Vandall said. Breaking a settlement also may mean that the family has to return any money they received, depending on the terms of the original agreement.

But if it emerges that GM continued to sell cars with the faulty ignition switch despite having evidence that it was a hazard, and intentionally misled opposing lawyers or omitted critical information, "judges might well set aside the settlement," Vandall said.

Attorney Bob Hilliard, who is representing the family of Hasaya Chansuthus, who was killed in the 2009 crash of a 2006 Cobalt, said he believes the family has a case for fraud because GM hid the ignition switch issue. The family settled with GM in early 2011 and now they intend to overturn the deal and sue, he said.

"If GM conceals negligent facts...and they use that to pressure a settlement for pennies, while at the same time preventing any reasonable plaintiffs' lawyer from discovering that the Cobalt had a death-causing defect, then that's fraud," said Hilliard in an interview. "The law abhors fraud."

Another obstacle facing plaintiffs who seek to sue GM is that the automaker is not responsible under the terms of its bankruptcy exit for legal claims relating to incidents that took place before July 2009. Those claims must be brought against what remains of the "old" or pre-bankruptcy GM, legal analysts say.

To get around this difficulty, plaintiffs may attempt to argue that they should be allowed to sue the "new" GM over pre-bankruptcy actions. In doing so, they could invoke the theory of "successor liability," meaning that the new GM should be held accountable for claims against the former company because they believe GM committed fraud, legal experts say.

FIRST DOCUMENTED DEATH

The adoptive parents of Amber Rose, who died at the age of 16 when the airbags failed to deploy as she crashed her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt into a tree in Dentsville, Maryland in July 2005, say they are planning to try to overturn a settlement and sue GM. They reached an agreement with the automaker in February 2006 over what has become the first documented death linked to the faulty ignition switches.

Both Jim Rose and his former wife, Terry DiBattista, say they were never informed about the potentially defective ignition switches. GM had flagged problems with the switch to Chevrolet dealers in a service bulletin in February 2005, five months before Amber's fatal crash.

But the GM lawyer who dealt with the Rose case did not mention the switch, presenting the settlement offer as "a courtesy" to her family, DiBattista said.

"I just found out three weeks ago about the ignition switch" that in some cases could shut the engine and airbags off in the Cobalt and other GM small cars, DiBattista told Reuters.

Amber's birth mother, Laura Christian, is friends with DiBattista. The pair are traveling together with parents of other crash victims to Washington, DC, where lawmakers are holding hearings on the GM recall next week.

Christian said she is also planning to sue the automaker, even though she didn't seek a settlement after her daughter's death. Christian said she first contacted GM in September 2005, seeking to find out why the airbags did not deploy, "but nobody would ever speak to me."

If the families go ahead with the lawsuits it would add to mounting litigation and a public relations crisis at the company, which faces congressional investigations, a criminal probe by the Department of Justice, an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and an internal probe of its own.

Attorneys in several states have filed class action suits against GM, which also faces at least two wrongful-death suits from the families of crash victims who have not settled. Lawsuits in California and Alabama allege that GM knew of ignition-switch problems as early as 2001, but failed to take proper steps to fix the defects.

It's unclear how many out-of-court settlements GM may have reached with families over accidents now linked to the faulty ignition. Reuters learned of at least three such settlements, which are subject to certain confidentiality agreements. GM declined to comment.

In addition to the two families who settled and are now considering suing, the family of Brooke Melton, who was killed in a 2010 accident involving a 2005 Cobalt, also reached a settlement but currently is not planning to sue, according to the family's attorney Lance Cooper.

(Editing by Martin Howell and Peter Henderson)

--

Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.
Loading...
  • Grenade attack on home of Kosovo TV chief over border deal
    Grenade attack on home of Kosovo TV chief over border deal AFP News - 18 minutes ago

    A shadowy activist group in Kosovo claimed responsibility Monday for an attack on the home of Kosovo's public broadcast chief, in protest over a controversial border deal. "An explosive device was thrown into the backyard" of Mentor Shala, general … More »

  • 'IS suicide bomber' kills 71 army recruits in Yemen
    'IS suicide bomber' kills 71 army recruits in Yemen AFP News - 28 minutes ago

    An Islamic State group militant rammed his explosives-laden car into an army recruiting centre in Aden Monday, killing 71 people in the deadliest jihadist attack on the Yemeni city in over a year. The army, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, is … More »

  • Brussels crime lab attacked to 'destroy evidence'
    Brussels crime lab attacked to 'destroy evidence' 38 minutes ago

    Attackers rammed a car through the gates of Belgium's national crime laboratory on Monday in Brussels and then started a fire in what officials said may have been an attempt to destroy evidence. The incident comes as Belgium remains on high alert … More »

  • Cyber threat grows for bitcoin exchanges Reuters - 1 hour 55 minutes ago

    When hackers penetrated a secure authentication system at a bitcoin exchange called Bitfinex earlier this month, they stole about $70 million worth of the virtual currency. The latest survey of 46 securities exchanges released three years ago by … More »

  • Dollar at three-week high, bonds and stocks sell off on hawkish Fed
    Dollar at three-week high, bonds and stocks sell off on hawkish Fed 2 hours 11 minutes ago

    The dollar rose to a three-week high against the yen on Monday, while bond yields surged to their highest since June and stocks sold off after senior Federal Reserve officials indicated a U.S. interest rate increase was on the cards soon. In the … More »

  • Greek economy grows in second quarter but strong rebound elusive
    Greek economy grows in second quarter but strong rebound elusive 2 hours 30 minutes ago

    Greece's economy grew modestly in the second quarter but weak demand and scant investment mean a strong rebound after years of recession remains elusive a year after the country nearly crashed out of the euro. Rating agencies Moody's and S&P are … More »

  • Global from Day One co-invests in New Zealand firm’s US$5M Series A round
    Global from Day One co-invests in New Zealand firm’s US$5M Series A round 2 hours 57 minutes ago

    Global from Day One is a cross-border technology fund with the majority of capital to be invested in New Zealand and Taiwanese startups Spotlight Reporting, a Wellington-based cloud software company, has secured US$5 million in Series A funding from … More »

  • Oil falls towards $49 on high output, strong dollar
    Oil falls towards $49 on high output, strong dollar 3 hours ago

    Oil fell towards $49 a barrel on Monday, pressured by high output from Middle East OPEC members and as a stronger U.S. dollar weighed on commodities. Iraq, which has exported more crude from its southern ports in August, will continue ramping up … More »

  • New suspected MH370 debris found in Mozambique
    New suspected MH370 debris found in Mozambique AFP News - 3 hours ago

    A South African hotelier said Monday he had picked up a piece of aircraft wreckage off the Mozambican coast in the latest possible find of debris from the missing MH370 flight. Mozambique's aviation authorities in Maputo said they had been informed … More »

  • Unbiased New Launch Review – Lake Grande
    Unbiased New Launch Review – Lake Grande Propwise.sg - 3 hours ago

    By KK Tong (guest contributor) 23 July 2016 was the official launch date of Lake Grande, a 99-year leasehold development (lease starting from 9 June 2015) in Jurong West. On the launch weekend, 436 units out of a total of 710 units were sold. The … More »

  • Australia's richest woman considers bid for country's largest ranch - source Reuters - 4 hours ago

    Australia's richest woman Gina Rinehart is partnering with Chinese developer Shanghai CRED to bid for S. Kidman & Co, the country's largest private land holding, a source close to the sales process said on Monday. Rinehart's participation in a bid … More »

  • iPhone spyware spotlights Israel's secretive surveillance industry
    iPhone spyware spotlights Israel's secretive surveillance industry AFP News - 4 hours ago

    The discovery of sophisticated spyware to infiltrate and remotely take control of iPhones without leaving a trace has put a spotlight on Israel's secretive surveillance industry, considered among the world's most advanced. Apple rushed out a … More »

  • China Stock Traders Feel Heat With 774 Probes in Two Months (3) Bloomberg - 4 hours ago

    Liu Shiyu, who was appointed chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission in February, has emphasized the need for a tough stance on market excesses. The moves come amid signs China’s policy makers are also looking to cool gains in the … More »

  • SE Asia Stocks-Fall as Fed rate hike signals get louder Reuters - 4 hours ago

    By Aparajita Saxena Aug 29 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets closed lower on Monday after comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen hinting at an interest rate hike weighed on ... … More »

  • US rate guesswork weighs on stock markets
    US rate guesswork weighs on stock markets AFP News - 4 hours ago

    Stock markets across the world dipped Monday as investors tried to second-guess the US Federal Reserve on the timing of its next interest rate hike. In a much-scrutinized speech, Fed chief Janet Yellen on Friday hinted at a US interest rate rise by … More »

  • Yuan Trades Near Five-Week Low as Fed Signals Renew Pressure Bloomberg - 4 hours ago

    China’s exchange rate fell as much as 0.24 percent as a gauge of dollar strength extended gains. The odds of a Fed rate increase in September shot up to 42 percent following comments from Chair Janet Yellen that the case to raise U.S. borrowing … More »

  • Marilyn Monroe’s Tokyo Honeymoon Spot Worries About Yen Rise (2) Bloomberg - 4 hours ago

    With signs of spending from foreign tourists starting to wane as a result of the stronger currency, the hotel is looking to boost wedding banquets and turn those younger guests into repeat clients, said Hideya Sadayasu, the president and general … More »

  • Gold hits near 5-week low after Fed strikes hawkish note
    Gold hits near 5-week low after Fed strikes hawkish note Reuters - 4 hours ago

    Gold slid to a near five-week low on Monday after comments from top Federal Reserve officials fuelled speculation that U.S. interest rates would rise sooner rather than later, weighing on the dollar. Speaking at a meeting of leading central bankers … More »

  • Dollar at 3-week high, bonds and stocks sell off on hawkish Fed
    Dollar at 3-week high, bonds and stocks sell off on hawkish Fed Reuters - 5 hours ago

    The dollar rose to a three-week high against the yen on Monday, while bond yields surged to their highest since June and stocks sold off after senior Federal Reserve officials indicated a U.S. interest rate increase was on the cards in the near … More »

  • GIC Said to Pay Less Than $400 Million for Vietcombank Holding Bloomberg - 5 hours ago

    The Singapore sovereign fund will buy Vietcombank stock at a discount to the current market price, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. GIC, which manages Singapore’s foreign reserves, said in July that … More »

  • Malaysia's closing tin prices for Aug 29 Reuters - 5 hours ago

    KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Following is a table of Kuala Lumpur tin market prices provided by a Malaysian trader. (Prices in $/tonne, and volumes in tonnes unless stated) Date KL Premium/ Spot Bid ... … More »

  • Suicide attack kills 18 in Iraq oasis town
    Suicide attack kills 18 in Iraq oasis town AFP News - 5 hours ago

    Attackers armed with suicide vests, rifles and grenades killed 18 people in the Iraqi oasis town of Ain al-Tamer, many of them guests at a wedding party, local officials said Monday. One of them blew himself up and the others were killed by the … More »

  • A sneak-peek into an upcoming billion dollar fund to bridge SEA and China
    A sneak-peek into an upcoming billion dollar fund to bridge SEA and China e27 - 5 hours ago

    As Chinese companies invest more in Southeast Asia, CC Zhuang’s fund is likely to be an important building block in constructing the bridge We now have an idea of what CC Zhuang is up to after leaving Qunar, the largest online travel booking company … More »

  • Singapore's GIC to take 7.7 percent stake in Vietnam's Vietcombank
    Singapore's GIC to take 7.7 percent stake in Vietnam's Vietcombank Reuters - 5 hours ago

    Singapore sovereign wealth GIC Pte Ltd said on Monday it will acquire a 7.73 percent stake in Vietcombank (VCB.HM), Vietnam's biggest lender by market capitalisation. GIC will purchase 305,810,895 new shares in Vietcombank as part of the deal, it … More »

  • Prada Shares Surge as Chairman Forecasts Improvement in 2017 (1) Bloomberg - 5 hours ago

    This year “is a turning point and we are now firmly on the path to sustainable growth in revenues and earnings from as early as 2017,” Mazzi said on an Aug. 26 conference call after the Hong Kong market closed. First-half earnings before interest, … More »

 
Recent Quotes
Symbol Price Change % Chg 
Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
 
Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.

MARKET MOVERS

  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.124-0.005-3.88%
    N21.SI
    0.735-0.020-2.65%
    G13.SI
    0.128+0.014+12.28%
    RE4.SI
    0.3550.0000.00%
    E5H.SI
    4.12-0.10-2.37%
    Z74.SI
  • % Gainers
    % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.355+0.115+47.92%
    BAZ.SI
    0.151+0.024+18.90%
    D79.SI
    0.23+0.03+15.00%
    AWI.SI
    0.475+0.060+14.46%
    588.SI
    0.128+0.014+12.28%
    RE4.SI
  • % Losers
    % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.205-0.105-33.87%
    BCZ.SI
    0.25-0.10-28.57%
    BKX.SI
    0.13-0.05-27.78%
    AYL.SI
    0.165-0.055-25.00%
    BKZ.SI
    0.745-0.130-14.86%
    564.SI

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1.3610+0.0028+0.20%
    USDSGD=X
    1.5194-0.0002-0.01%
    EURSGD=X
    1.7795-0.0014-0.08%
    GBPSGD=X
    75.0640+0.382+0.51%
    SGDJPY=X
    5.6965-0.0082-0.14%
    SGDHKD=X
    2.9707+0.0044+0.15%
    SGDMYR=X
    9,743.6680-4.5205-0.05%
    SGDIDR=X
    4.9051-0.0011-0.02%
    SGDCNY=X
    1.0294+0.0031+0.30%
    AUDSGD=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1,324.90-1.00-0.08%
    GCZ16.CMX
    18.62-0.03-0.17%
    SIU16.CMX
    96.38+0.59+0.61%
    ^XAU
    2.080.00+0.07%
    HGU16.CMX
    46.96-0.68-1.43%
    CLV16.NYM
  • Bonds
    Bonds
    TreasuryYield (%)Yield Change
    1.20-0.04
    ^FVX
    1.60-0.04
    ^TNX
    2.25-0.05
    ^TYX