Judge Denies GM Bid to Merge California, New York Ignition Switch Suits

By | November 28, 2014

General Motors Co. lost a bid to merge a California county prosecutor’s lawsuit over faulty ignition switches with customer cases pending in New York that make similar accusations about the carmaker’s conduct and demand monetary compensation.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan on Tuesday returned the case brought by the elected district attorney of Orange County, California, to Orange County Superior Court.

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas had argued that actions to enforce police or regulatory powers are allowed to proceed in their home courts.

Furman agreed, saying in his order that he wasn’t free to ignore the limits of federal jurisdiction despite the temptation of federal courts to take on big dollar cases with national implications.

The judge is coordinating more than 100 lawsuits against GM over fallen car prices, now joined into two group suits, plus dozens of accident cases in state and federal courts around the U.S. He said in the order that “well over a thousand plaintiffs” are involved.

The ignition switch defect was the carmaker’s highest- profile recall, spurring congressional hearings, a regulatory fine, a federal probe, a $3 billion Arizona suit and a $10 billion class action.

The Orange County case is People of the State of California v. General Motors LLC, 14-cv-0123, California Superior Court, Orange County.

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