Plaintiff in First ‘Bellwether’ GM Ignition Switch Trial Drops Case

By Sophia Pearson and Erik Larson | January 22, 2016

The Oklahoma mail carrier at the center of the first trial over General Motors Co.’s deadly ignition-switch defect is dropping his claims after being accused of lying to the court.

Robert Scheuer, 49, will walk away from the case empty- handed, ending a lawsuit that was supposed to serve as a guide for hundreds of others against GM over the ignition switch, his lawyer said in a filing Friday in Manhattan federal court.

Scheuer had sued over claims the defective switch in his 2003 Saturn Ion disabled his air bag in an accident, leading to neck and back injuries. But the case collapsed after GM found evidence undermining several claims, including the extent of his injuries and details surrounding his family’s eviction from their “dream house” after the wreck.

“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,” GM spokesman James Cain said in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman on Thursday granted GM’s request to show jurors evidence that Scheuer and his wife, Lisa, had fabricated the story blaming GM for their eviction about four months after the accident. The judge said the new evidence would probably be “devastating” to the case.

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. When the real estate agent found out, the family was evicted, the carmaker said. GM said the real estate agent had come forward after the trial started, and that the company had extensive evidence that it had nothing to do with the family’s financial troubles.

Scheuer and his wife both hired criminal-defense attorneys this week after the carmaker accused them of lying.

The case was chosen as the first for trial by Robert Hilliard and Steve Berman, two of the top plaintiffs’ lawyers in the U.S., who are leading the ignition-switch litigation. They haven’t denied the allegations of forgery and perjury against their client.

GM recalled 2.59 million cars due to the defect and has already paid more than $2 billion in legal costs and settlements. Despite GM’s admissions, the company is challenging liability in hundreds of individual cases.

The case is Fleck v. General Motors LLC, 1:14-cv-08176, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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Latest Comments

  • January 22, 2016 at 5:52 pm
    Agent says:
    If they were turned into burger flippers, they would sue for $15 per hour.
  • January 22, 2016 at 4:04 pm
    Dave says:
    That my friend is a scary thought. Now for the lawyer jokes. What do you call 1,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start.
  • January 22, 2016 at 3:48 pm
    CommonSense says:
    Plaintiff should have to reimburse GM for every dime spent to defend this suit. If Plaintiff can't come up with the money, his lawyer should have to pay on his behalf. Call it... read more
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