By on June 21, 2009

As part of its “reinvention,” GM wants to leave behind products liability claimants. “New GM” wants to jettison its legal responsibilities to “old” customers who were seriously injured by defective products—including customers who bought products from pre-bankruptcy General Motors who haven’t yet been injured. In this there is precedence. As I discussed here on my Bankruptcy Litigation Blog, Chrysler stiffed products liability claimants when they restructured post C-11. Is this going to be a case of deja vu all over again? Not if I can help it.

I’ve decided to step into the fray by filing this Objection to the GM Sale and this Memorandum in Support. On the brief with me is Public Citizen’s Adina Rosenbaum and Allison Zieve, counsel for the Center for Auto SafetyConsumer ActionConsumers for Auto Reliability and SafetyNational Association of Consumer Advocates, and Public Citizen. I thank the Coleman Law Firm’s own Bob Coleman for his generosity in dedicating the firm’s resources to this important pro bono effort.

TTAC will be following my progress. Meanwhile, here’s a sample of my clients’ stories, taken from the filed objection. The only thing my clients did wrong: buy a GM car. For this act of brand loyalty, they have paid dearly. “New GM” should not be allowed to walk away from their “old” responsibilities.

[Keep in mind, this is NOT a debate over the underlying merits of how much GM is liable for, if anything, in any particular case. Rather it’s a debate over what a bankruptcy court is empowered to do by statute (the scope of section 363), by Congress (the scope a bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction), and by the Constitution (due process).]

  • On August 17, 2004—a week before she was to start college—18 year old Callan Campbell was a front-seat passenger in a 1996 GMC Jimmy when the driver of the vehicle lost control while attempting to make a left turn. The vehicle entered a driver-side leading roll and rolled 1.5 times before ending on its roof. The roof collapsed over Callan’s seat, partially paralyzing her. The strength-to-weight ratio of the GMC Jimmy roof is about 1.9, which is among the lowest of all GM vehicles. GM’s own tests revealed that roof strengths in rollovers should be 3W to 4W. Callan’s paralysis could have been avoided at a mere fifty dollar cost to GM. Callan’s medical bills total $200,000 for the life-saving treatment she received immediately after the crash. Additionally, Callan’s parents have spent $160,000 renovating their home to accommodate Callan’s physical and medical needs as a C6 incomplete quadriplegic. A life care planner has estimated Callan’s current and future needs for extra doctor visits, medicine, durable equipment and home modifications at $4,518,831.00. An economist has predicted her work loss based on total disability at $4,120,538. Callan is also entitled to significant compensation for pain and suffering including loss of life’s pleasures, loss of dignity and independence, loss of the use of her limbs, and disfigurement.
  • Kevin and Nikki Junso are the parents of Tyler, Matt, and Cole Junso. On April 25, 2006, Tyler and Cole Junso were involved a single car rollover accident while driving a 2003 GMC Envoy. During the rollover, the windshield and side windows were knocked out, reducing the strength of the roof structure. The Envoy sustained catastrophic damage to the roof structure, which buckled violently inwardly toward Tyler and Cole. Despite being belted, both occupants were partially ejected from the vehicle during the roll over. Seventeen year old Tyler, the driver, sustained massive skull and neck injuries and died at the scene of the accident. The evidence showed that Tyler’s head was partially outside the vehicle during the roll over sequence, due to the broken window and lateral displacement of the roof structure, and made contact with both the ground and the roof during the accident. The paramedics found Kevin, the passenger, with his left leg out the windshield and his right leg out the passenger side window. Kevin sustained serious injuries to his arms and legs, which eventually led to the amputation of his right leg below the knee.GM has been aware of the significant risks of “occupant excursion” if the safety mechanisms in its vehicles fail. Despite this knowledge, GM failed to introduce cost effective safety measures into its designs, which could have included side window plastics or laminates or seat belts resistant to excessive spool out. Not only has the Junso family lost a son as a result of GM’s failure to correct the strength instabilities in its SUVs, but Kevin has also lost his right leg. To date, Kevin has incurred medical bills totaling $555,204.19, and his future medical expenses are predicted to exceed $800,000.
  • Edwin Agosto was driving his 2000 Chevrolet Blazer on September 22, 2008, when he lost control of his vehicle causing him to cross the center line and strike a tree. After striking the tree, the car once again crossed the center line and collided with a guardrail where it finally came to rest. Edwin’s airbags failed to deploy throughout the course of the entire accident. Because of that failure, Edwin suffered injuries including multiple spinous process fractures, a heavily comminuted fracture of the left scapula extending into his scapular spine and glenoid, multiple rib fractures, a humerus fracture, a subclavian vein injury, and a post traumatic subdural hygroma upon striking his head on the windshield. Due to these injuries, Edwin spent the next two and a half months of his life in a coma.
  • Joseph Berlingieri was parked in a driveway on September 21, 2006 when the driver side impact airbag in his 1998 Cadillac DeVille malfunctioned and deployed. The air bag struck Joseph in his left ear, arm, and shoulder causing trauma injuries including hearing loss, tinnitus, and other serious injuries. The vehicle had previously been recalled for faulty side airbags, and after its repair was warranted to Joseph as being free from defect and suitable for purchase. However, the vehicle was not suitable for use, and was sold to Joseph despite the defective airbag mechanism.

[click here for more inside info at bankruptcylitigationblog.com]

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64 Comments on “Editorial: The Case Against GM...”


  • avatar
    mkirk

    Good to see GM standing behind it’s products. I really want to be interested in a Solstice or Sky to replace my aging 1990 Miata but this adds yet another reason to steer clear. If only Ford built a car like this. Guess I’ll be looking for a clean NB Miata.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    While I am hardly one to let greedy corporations off the hook, but in the SUV examples above, each one starts with “the driver lost control of the vehicle.” Just why did that happen? Also, that “$50.00 extra” to GM, what does that number include? If you are talking more metal, well, that’s more weight, and with that come a variety of cascading implications – mileage, weigh classes, etc. Just playing devil’s advocate here…

    That said, the new GM should NOT be able to walk from past product liabilities. For years corporations have tried to ignore issues with product safety, and these are the typical results. Anybody who grumbles about intrusive government regulations ought to consider just what would be out there if this was simply left to the market. Hate to drag politics in Robert, but it is totally relevant here, and both sides have dragged their feet. Today, safety has marketing value because regulations (passive restraint requirements led to the “airbag war”; thank you Lee Iacocca) brought safety concerns to the forefront of many consumers’ minds, even it at first it was just a way to avoid the hated motorized seatbelts. Yet, real rollover standards have elusive. Of course, the carmakers say that such measures will make vehicles heavier, and therefore less efficient. What a joke that is. GM being concerned about the mileage of it’s SUV’s. That’s like when my bank keeps touting the environmental benefit of going to paperless statements. The only green they are concerned about is money.

  • avatar
    mach1

    Two important points”

    1) I agree that “New GM” should continue to be responsible for the legitimate claims of their previous customers.

    2) There is no such thing as an automobile design that will protect the occupants under all circumstances. The fact that the people were killed or seriously injured does not constitute a “defective design”. In the real world “shit happens” and people suffer but it doesn’t automatically make it someone elses fault.

    The standard needs to be that, if a vehicle complies with applicable safety regulations, there is no liability.

  • avatar
    lw

    Not sure what you do here.. Call Obama?

    I guess GM figures that these aren’t going to be repeat customers anyway so they may as well screw them into the dirt.

    Very sad… A cram down for those that can least afford it while others get sweet deals.

  • avatar
    TomH

    I feel for the claimants, and appreciate the math on hospitalization and lost wages costs, but how about the apportionment of responsibility for the loss. What role did the drivers play, were the passengers properly belted in, were other vehicles involved?

    Besides, the old GM is bankrupt. (So much for the “Deep Pockets” strategy of product liability litigation in automotive.) To the extent there is a legitimate claim, get in line and tell it to the judge, or contribute to the campaign of the guys who are managing the ropes. Government Motors is not running away from its purported responsibilities, it is a different entity; the whole purpose of the federal involvement (i.e. our money) is to hopefully fund the viability of an ongoing concern and not the hangover liabilities of the failed company.

  • avatar
    Samir

    I guess GM figures that these aren’t going to be repeat customers anyway so they may as well screw them into the dirt.

    It’s as simple as that, really.

    Unfortunately, it’s incredibly short-sighted.

  • avatar
    turbosaab

    My sympathies go out to these families, but I don’t agree with the premise that the manufacturer should be responsible in these situations. Safety is always a matter of compromise, and it should be up to the buyer to research and purchase a vehicle which offers the level of safety they desire.

  • avatar
    Patrickj

    It is a given that driving in close quarters with members of the American general public is inherently unsafe. All we can do is minimize the level of danger involved.

    The fact that GM and Chrysler are weaseling out of liability claims makes an open and shut case that their past and present products are more dangerous than those of their competitors. After all, they can’t afford to stand behind their products.

    Given that indisputable fact, is there any reason to believe that future products will have competitive levels of safety?

    Despite my skepticism about the ambulance-chasing profession, they would be doing a public service to spend $10 or $20 million on an ad campaign to remind people of this fact and save taxpayers the cost of further subsidies to the zombie automakers.

  • avatar
    cardeveloper

    Unintended consequences.

    Many on this site were demanding immediate bankruptcy months ago, guess what, past liabilities are eliminated in bankruptcy.

    Ever see the corporate safety “opinions” on transplant mfg? Likely not, because those documents are never produced. Guess what, transplants make the same identical tradeoffs between EXCEEDING govt safety standards and real life safety recommendations. Usually exceeding them to lesser levels then US based manufacturers.

    There are few true design defects, but the fear and costs of lawsuits helps minimize real defects. I also doubt that seat belts were being worn or worn properly allowing partial ejection.

    Design tradeoffs happen through the entire car. $50 may sound like an insignificant number, but multiply that times a few hundred thousand vehicles… and that’s only one part. Say 250,000 annual (through all similar structural car models), over a design cycle of 8-10 years. Suddenly you’re talking about big money. Can you justify one life for $50? How about one life for a few million? One life for a few hundred million? If it’s a loved ones life, no, but, others, not worth the trade off.

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    @Mach1:

    The standard needs to be that, if a vehicle complies with applicable safety regulations, there is no liability.

    It would be nice if that were a reasonable and proper place to draw the demarcation of liability, but it’s contingent on the safety regulations themselves being reasonable and proper. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case. There are many reasons for this, some of which have been covered here. NHTSA is responsible for developing, promulgating, and enforcing auto safety standards in America. Leadership of NHTSA is a political plum doled out (as it were) to a long series of individuals wholly unqualified to make wise decisions on engineering matters. When the content and structure of technical standards ultimately lies in the hands of a doctor or a politician, rather than an engineer, it is easily predictable that there will be substantial instances of vehicles that are legal but not safe — and this is in fact the case. That’s why your suggestion fails.

    NHTSA cannot be sued for issuing vehicle regulations that fail to provide reasonable safety in reasonably foreseeable situations (or for any other reason), so the only accessible redress is by suing the automaker. This threat of lawsuit, alongside the legal requirements, factors into automakers’ decisions of how to build cars. Automakers frequently gamble that it’ll be less costly to pay damages, torts, and other legal costs than it will be to design, build, and sell a safer car — remember the Ford Pinto burn death memo? It was nowhere near an isolated case, it’s just one that got a lot of press. And that’s why it absolutely doesn’t work to allow automakers to use regulatory compliance as a shield against product liability lawsuits.

    Wish it were different, but that’s the way it is.

  • avatar
    Steve Jakubowski

    Thanks for reading and your comments. Keep in mind all I’m saying is that New GM shouldn’t automatically be able to walk from all liabilities without the injured parties having the opportunity to have their claims (including whether New GM is a “successor”) heard in the courts of the state where they reside. The way things are set now, these claimants will be deprived their day in court to prove (A) that New GM is a “successor” responsible under state law for Old GM’s product liability claims and (B) that the claimants are entitled to recovery on the underlying merits of their cases.

    And the reason they shouldn’t be deprived their day in that court, we argue, is because (1) section 363(f) of the Bankruptcy Code doesn’t permit a sale free of clear of “claims” but only “interests in” the property (like liens and other rights to the property itself), (2) a bankruptcy court is a court of limited jurisdiction and it has no authority (A) to stop a third party (the injured) from suing another third party (New GM) or (B) to pass judgment on matters involving state law personal injury claims (such as whether New GM is a “successor” at law), and (3) future claimants that haven’t been injured should never be covered under any such “free and clear” order as a matter of “due process” under the Constitution as they had no ability to defend themselves in the bankruptcy court.

    For more background, see http://www.bankruptcylitigationblog.com, and thanks again for reading!

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    So, they can structure a BK to help the little union guy who should have walked away from a contract between devils decades ago, and has no one to blame but himself for contributing ballast to a sinking ship.

    OTOH, they can’t fix it so that the little guy who foolishly buys the shiny, new pile of junk the conspiracy produces gets a little help when his life is tragically altered.

    Yet, there are STILL a bunch of folks out there that have faith in more and more government intervention into business.

    Government’s proper role is not in trying to fix the outcomes, but cleaning up after the mess and making the cheaters pay for it. Instead, we now have a government intent on picking the winners based on group identities instead of individual efforts, and inevitably some individuals will get screwed.

    More tragically, others will get doubly screwed because they will get something for nothing, and will therefore likely never learn how to be free, responsible, and successful.

  • avatar

    NHTSA cannot be sued for issuing vehicle regulations that fail to provide reasonable safety in reasonably foreseeable situations (or for any other reason), so the only accessible redress is by suing the automaker. This threat of lawsuit, alongside the legal requirements, factors into automakers’ decisions of how to build cars.

    Hi, Daniel. European law stipulates that there is no liability if the product was not already faulty when it was made available for sale, if the “fault” was due to the product complying with pertinent rules and regulations, or if it was not possible to notice the fault, using generally accepted means, when the product was made available for sale.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Mr. Jakubowski,

    As part of its “reinvention,” GM wants to leave behind products liability claimants. “New GM” wants to jettison its legal responsibilities to “old” customers who were seriously injured by defective products—including customers who bought products from pre-bankruptcy General Motors who haven’t yet been injured.

    I’m not a lawyer, so please educate me.

    Two questions:

    1. If the quick 363 sale and division into “New GM” and “Old GM” is not allowed, and if a protracted C11 should turn into C7, what do the injured get? Let’s assume they win their cases against GM. Where do they get in line to be paid, near the head of the line, near the back, or do they even get in line?

    2. How can GM, or any company, ever file bankruptcy if they can’t shed potential liability for injuries that have not happened yet? That is, if someone bought a GM car the day before GM filed bankruptcy, must we wait until that person is no longer the owner of the car? 10-15 years, potentially? Do second owners count?

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I may as well ask a 3rd question –

    Why is there anymore likelihood that these objections to the scope of 363 should be more successful in the GM case than in the Chrysler case?

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Dynamic88,

    I can help with number 2, or at least comment.

    When BK became a social program designed to aid the workers and community, rather than simply fairly dividing up the assets, doesn’t it seem that these liabilities should have been put back on the table?

    It seems to me that everyone else is being represented at the bargaining table, and they should be as well. It’s only fair.

    Also, if a fund were created that at the least paid off actual medical costs of plaintiffs, that would be something both positive, and likely agreable to the creditors.

    I know most folks will disagree, but I think the best thing for the community, and likely the workers, would be more 7’s, and less 13’s. The workers are better off getting out of the company or shrinking industry, and the community is really better off having the winners in the industry be the ones growing, innovating, and competing for our resources.

    Now, GM is a specific case, but we still have Ford, and we could see a real start up if there were more room. I know we won’t liquidate GM this time around, but maybe we will let Chrysler or GM go next time? And if the administration were vocal about this now, maybe the workers would be prepared next time?

  • avatar
    Steve Jakubowski

    Dynamic:

    Excellent questions. I’ll try to provide excellent responses!

    In a ch 7 or ch 11, the claimants are like any other general unsecured creditor. We all know what they’re getting (or not getting). But I’m not suggesting leapfrogging and getting something they’re not entitled to. In a way, it’s no different than what happens when a company goes bust and sells its assets in an auction. Look at your Sunday business “auction mart” and look at all the businesses being liquidated. The buyer of that business, lets say of an oven manufacturer, will not be responsible for past exploding ovens UNLESS (and this is a big unless) the buyer is deemed a “successor” under state law because it’s a “mere continuation” or — in about 13-15 states — a “continuity of enterprise” or engaged in the same “product line.” In those states, if those tests are satisfied, the manufacturer can’t shed itself of those liabilities even if it buys the assets in an arm’s length transaction at auction.

    So why should that third party buyer be permitted to shed such liabilities in bankruptcy? Well maybe they can in a plan of reorganization which specifically permits sales “free and clear” of claims and interests. It’s just that the Bankruptcy Code, in my view, doesn’t extend that comprehensive protection to bankruptcy 363 sales.

    Finally, and this isn’t legal advice, anyone injured in a product liability type accident is able to bring that suit regardless of whether he/she’s the original, second or third owner or just an occupant. I don’t think the time to bring suit for liability starts at the time of manufacture, but at the time of injury. So if the injury occurred within the time for bringing such tort claims at state law, let’s say within the past two years, then even if the car is a 1992 one with exploding “side saddle” gas tanks (see my brief on this), then they can bring that claim now in pretty much any state.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    It seems to me that the common thread in most of the liability cases cited above is the glaring need for improved driver training in this country.

    Driving a car is an inherently dangerous act – no amount of safety equipment is going to completely mitigate this risk. The only “low-hanging fruit” left to lower the highway death toll is the driver and their skills (or lack therof) behind the wheel.

  • avatar
    carlos.negros

    In order for me to render an opinion on case number one, the roof strength, or lack of, in the 1996 Jimmy, I would need the following additional data points:
    -roof strength compared to other vehicles sold that year
    -rollover potential compared to other similar vehicles sold that year
    -accident history of that particular vehicle (had it ever rolled previously?)
    -condition of other vehicle systems that could have contributed to the loss of control and rollover (tires, shocks, rust, tie rods, wheel bearings, steering rack, ball joints)
    -physical and mental state and history of driver (intoxicated, speeding, lack of experience, previous tickets, arrests)
    -possible other factors such as whether driver of said vehicle was being chased or receiving oral sex while driving.

    And this is only case number one. There are lots of factors that would need to be determined.

    The best outcome would be for the court to set aside funds for liability insurance coverage to be placed in escrow, with a finite expiration date for product-related liability. However, where will these funds come from? Will the secured bondholders be willing to take a hit on their payout? Do you expect this money to come from the TARP? Perhaps these cases need to be paid with common stock certificates issued by the new GM?

  • avatar
    Hippo

    Poor lawyers might lose millions if the claims are dropped in BK as they should.

  • avatar
    carlos.negros

    Landcrusher:
    “I think the best thing for the community, and likely the workers, would be more 7’s, and less 13’s.”

    In some cases, yes. But in this case, no. Who would be better off:
    -secured bondholders? no, far less payout.
    -workers? no, jobs eliminated.
    -banks? no, more foreclosures.
    -economy? no, big drag on consumer confidence
    -local governments? no, less employment and tax revenues
    -China? yes. They can buy our assembly lines for 7 cents on the dollar

    I think this comes down to what we see as the role of government. Take air traffic control as an example. We can let each airline take off and land as it pleases and the government can investigate accidents later. Or, the government can actively get involved and try to prevent crashes from happening. Which do you prefer?

  • avatar
    chuckR

    golden2husky

    others have commented well on whose responsibility these might be, but the system looks at who is injured and who can pay as well

    re: costs and weight penalties – from a presentation by (I guess) a Brazilian involved with Arcelor Mittal – best one I could find in a few minutes on google

    http://www.abmbrasil.com.br/cim/download/20080728_2valoragregado_henriguyon.pps

    you need to have powerpoint to look at this. If you don’t have it – the key cite in it is that cost is +10% and weight is -25% for a sample auto structure for equivalent performance to a more traditional steel. YMMV depending on specific structure component requirements.

    The steels, especially the highest strength ones like MS1200, are not merely very good, they are aerospace good. TTAC has been around this before – I think you can increase rollover resistance without a significant weight penalty through the use of modestly increased pillar wall thickness – same outside profile – and higher strength ductile steels. If even the few pounds extra weight and increased center of gravity is a concern, lose the crap like overhead consoles, sunroofs and multiple in-roof DVD players.

    Arcelor notes that half the automotive steels of today didn’t exist five years ago, so the lawyers’ forensic experts would be looking at the best steels contemporary to vehicle manufacture date/design.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Carlos,

    – Less payout? How? Are you being GM specific?
    – workers? The ones near retirement are better off, but everyone of the others would be better off leaving. The younger they are, the more they need to take the pain now and start elsewhere.
    – banks? How? Once again, in general, not GM.
    – economy? Short term perhaps, long term, hell no. Also, what about in a boom? Most people don’t care about boom time BK’s at all. Shows the bad logic for the whole thing IMO. We only care about BK’s when we can’t see the silver lining, but it’s always there. That is the beauty of the invisible hand.
    – local governments? Often part of the problem for one thing, not a valued constituency really. Also, better off in the long run than living on a precipice again.
    – China? Couldn’t say, but that’s rather specific to certain situations, not the overall subject.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Mr. Jakubowski

    Thank you for the reply.

    With respect to the second question, I’m still unclear. You had said in your editorial –

    As part of its “reinvention,” GM wants to leave behind products liability claimants. “New GM” wants to jettison its legal responsibilities to “old” customers who were seriously injured by defective products —including customers who bought products from pre-bankruptcy General Motors who haven’t yet been injured.

    There are literally thousands of old GM cars still on the roads. My brother is still driving his ’87 Celebrity and a co-worker is still driving his early ’80s Chevy Pickup. Is it your position that a post-BK GM should still be liable for all product liability cases arising from vehicles bought pre-BK?

  • avatar
    roamer

    GM is requesting that future trials for current products be refused on the basis of the reorganization. However, this is not yet the new GM.

    I would therefore argue (I am not a lawyer,though) that GM, by making this request, has surrendered it’s right to an extended trial on each preexisting case. Instead, the judge making the decision regarding the product liability issue going forward has the right to hear (or read) a summary argument from each side of each case and issue a verdict based on those arguments. Say an hour to hear each side’s argument, two hours to ask questions, an hour for lunch, an hour to quiz his staff on specific topics covered in their research, two hours to deliberate, and an hour to write the decision. Average, one case per eight hour day.

    Appeal? If you want to appeal one of his decisions on a case, you can do so – but the finalization of the creation of the new GM remains incomplete, and new cases can therefore be filed , until all cases are settled.

  • avatar
    George B

    If a customer buys a new GM car today after bankruptcy but the car was built before bankruptcy, do the Old GM or New GM rules apply in a defective product liability case?

    The whole point of the GM bankruptcy is GM doesn’t have enough money coming in to both pay its bills and to continue operating. Ideally New GM would be liable for all past defective products, but GM can’t pay its liabilities in full. In my mind, there is some fair percentage payout larger than zero but smaller than 100% that should apply here. Maybe the lawyers get paid, but in GM stock instead of cash. In the GM bankruptcy haircut, some get a light trim while others get scalped.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    > The only thing my clients did wrong: buy a GM car. For this act of brand loyalty, they have paid dearly. “New GM” should not be allowed to walk away from their “old” responsibilities.

    Sorry, I’m not giving you that. The space would better-served with a plainspoken interpretation of your brief and the existing bankruptcy laws. The sob stories and spin are irrelevant.

  • avatar
    ttacfan

    If this is a standard part of a standard corp. bankruptcy, what was the point of pouring our tax money and doing a “good” bankruptcy instead of the standard one?

    Sorry, for me it’s a deal breaker. I have two cars built by Old GM in my garage. For two cars from New GM to appear in my garage, the New GM needs to be proving itself for a while. Say, like Hyundai from ’86 Excel to ’09 Genesis.

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    Obama f**king the Trial Lawyers makes for BIG LULZ. They both deserve one another.

    For my part, I’ve always had a problem with most of these lawsuits. The Federal Government issues thousands of pages of very invasive regulations regarding just about every aspect of automotive safety performance. It seems to me that if the manufacturers go through the expense of validating compliance to these regs, the least they should get for their trouble is some protection from liability.

    I mean, isn’t the Federal Government at least partially responsible when they write a ‘Safety’ Spec and someone gets killed anyway? After all, they’ve made themselves technical partners in the design of every vehicle sold in the US. (That’s a somewhat facetious remark. I consider the end-item user to hold ultimate responsibility for their own safe operation of the vehicle.)

  • avatar
    GS650G

    The driver of the car that “lost control” is liable for the crash, the lawyer’s point seems to skip right to the deep pockets of GM and claim a 50 dollar shortcut makes them responsible for the extent of the girl’s injuries.

    I don’t see it that way. GM didn’t lose control, the driver did. I don’t see how GM is supposed to build a car impervious to all types of accidents or else face millions of dollars in damages from each accident.

    Sometimes life is unfair and unlucky things happen to us. By the same token people have walked away from horrible crashes in GM vehicles, so is GM given any credit, especially during court for a case like this, with engineering cars that put up a good fight? I doubt it, as attorneys quickly refocus attention back to their client.

    While there are defects GM and the rest are probably responsible for, it is the tort system that makes cars more expensive for us all and limits innovation at the same time.

    I wish your client the best but cannot agree with the predicted costs of 10 million dollars plus fees demanded.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    It’s rich to see hypocrites come out in force now that the gov (that’s us) are involved with GM.

    If this wasn’t GM, you would see the usual litany of complaints about ambulance chaser and whatever that corporate PR usually condition the sheeple to reflexively respond with.

    When BK became a social program designed to aid the workers and community, rather than simply fairly dividing up the assets, doesn’t it seem that these liabilities should have been put back on the table?

    Whatever is involved as a “social program” has nothing to do with the mechanics of the bankruptcy, and you can usually identify the deceivers by their insistence to combine the two.

    As I’ve said before, whatever these people get is entirely out of the generosity of us, the taxpayers, not unlike the continued warranties. Of course, lawyers don’t like this interpretation because they like to portray themselves as central to this rather simple issue.

    Well maybe they can in a plan of reorganization which specifically permits sales “free and clear” of claims and interests. It’s just that the Bankruptcy Code, in my view, doesn’t extend that comprehensive protection to bankruptcy 363 sales.

    Maybe it’s arguable that “free and clear” doesn’t really apply to s363 after all, but you can tell someone’s seriousness on the matter by their methodology, which in this case seems to be tugging at heart strings with sob stories.


    However, where will these funds come from? Will the secured bondholders be willing to take a hit on their payout?

    Of course not. Milking the taxpayer is exactly the value-add that corporate crooks are good at.

    – economy? Short term perhaps, long term, hell no. Also, what about in a boom? Most people don’t care about boom time BK’s at all. Shows the bad logic for the whole thing IMO. We only care about BK’s when we can’t see the silver lining, but it’s always there. That is the beauty of the invisible hand.

    I remember posting on Adam Smith and how ignorant people are about his work (or all economist’s work) a few days ago.

    The book people’ll want to read is a historical account of him like this: http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-Adam-Smith-Ideas-Enterprise/dp/0393329941/

    Which actually summarizes Wealth of Nations which somewhat understood the compromises, much better than the small thinkers who lead ideological movements hundreds of years after him.

    Curious, this book was also in the same search results, and discusses how their modern propaganda was founded: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393059308/

    It’s no wonder their agenda is one against academic scholarship.

    Anyway, the answer to the question of BK during bad times it that it’s always a cost to society, only much greater when unemployment is systematic, and credit is weak.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    I mean, isn’t the Federal Government at least partially responsible when they write a ‘Safety’ Spec and someone gets killed anyway? After all, they’ve made themselves technical partners in the design of every vehicle sold in the US.

    Of course, anything to privatize profits and socialize costs. What else can be expected when that’s the whole agenda?

  • avatar
    Steve Jakubowski

    Is it your position that a post-BK GM should still be liable for all product liability cases arising from vehicles bought pre-BK?

    States have differing laws. So the liability depends on the laws of the states: “Mere continuation” or “continuity of enterprise” or “product line”. The latter two create greater possibility of successor liability in New GM, thus making them potentially liable for product liability cases in the enterprises being assumed and run post-sale. If they converted the product lines to Chrysler cars or some other line that isn’t a GM-Chevy/Buick/Caddy/GMC, then the likelihood of a successful post-sale case would be low. But by keeping the GM brand, continuing to make the “Continuing Brands”, retaining current management, and distributing equity in the new company to the creditors (i.e., real owners) of the Old GM, they have created exposure under the laws of certain states for successor liability to all products liability claimants.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    One of the reasons I don’t buy GM cars anymore is my lack of confidence in their safety. New or used, they’re all garbage in my mind.

    I have taken what action I can (not buying or driving them myself) to lower my own personal risk. However, I cannot avoid other cars on the road, so there is some risk, even to me. Call me a “never again”.

    I think they should not be able to get out of their product liability responsibilities insofar as the law (as currently written) prevents it.

    Obviously, nobody can build a car to avoid all risk. Hell, even if you just stay home, there’s still a chance that somebody’s drunken drive or malfunctioning ride will end up in your living room anyhow!

    For personal injury cases, at least in some states, doesn’t the plaintif have to prove that the injury was the fault of the defendant?

    When the driver of a car “loses control” resulting in an injurious crash, it is possibly *** but not necessarily *** the fault of the car manufacturer. I would think that this test would have to be met for any personal injury case; that it would HAVE to be proven, maybe even in a court, maybe even with a jury.

    Steve, in these cases that you cite, was the fault of GM proven, or did GM simply accept responsibility for it? I guess in the eyes of the law, either way has the same result.

  • avatar
    Steve Jakubowski

    Zoom Zoom:

    Nothing’s been settled; all cases are in courts around the country. Every lawyer knows there’s two sides to every story. That’s why some cases settle; that’s why some cases go to trial.

    I don’t take any position on these or other cases on the merits, as that’s the province of the courts where those cases are pending. But it burns me up to see these cases terminated for reasons that I believe the bankruptcy laws don’t permit. Let them be terminated on the merits; not because of a bankruptcy 363 sale. We’ll see how it plays out.

  • avatar
    Countryboy

    Horrific injuries they sound to be sure.

    But i all honesty, I have to raise an eyebrow at the 17 year old drive involved in a rollover and somehow there is product liability involved subsequent ot that.

    In my mind, if both wheels fell off and caused the rollover, we’re talking liability.
    But failure to add platic bulletproof laminates in the side glass, 4 point racing hanresses, steel I-beams in the roof structure…that’s where I get lost

    And I have been driving for 35 years and involved in one rollover crash so I have a little experience. That sai, the idiot driving was playing weave and snagged a guy wire on the bumper of a Plymouth Fury and viola!
    Not like we were going down the road and observing a speed limit and the car flipped over like Herbie.

    Slamming headlong into a tree, crossing 4 lanes of traffic and slamming into a guradrail and still no airbag? Hmmm….something isn’t right with that one that we haven’t got the whole story on. Most of the time, you hit a soccer ball at 20 mph and the damn airbag deploys.

    Just sayin…contributory negligence?

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Mr. Jakubowski

    Thanks for your reply, again.

  • avatar
    Kurt.

    I’m no lawyer, but from the information provided and my belief in personal responsibility I’d have to ask: Was any of these incedents the fault of GM? Did the drivers loose control because a part of the vehicle was designed improperly and failed? (In the case of the airbag…yes). If the answer is no, then GM “in my opinion” shouldn’t be responsible. The folks CHOSE to drive poor handling SUV’s. They CHOSE vehicles that perform poorly in roll over incedents.

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    Of course, anything to privatize profits and socialize costs. What else can be expected when that’s the whole agenda?

    If the .gov is assuming the authority to define what constitutes a ‘safe’ car, maybe they should bear some of the responsibility that goes along with that authority.

    Besides the point to me, since I consider the end item user to bear ultimate responsibility. I oppose most product liability law suits on general principle.

  • avatar

    I drive a late model BMW 3-series, a Honda S2000 and a Honda motorcycle. Each of these is capable of excellent crash avoidance, but I recognize that none of them are a vehicle of choice in the event I’m in the path of a GMC Suburban. All meet some reasonable standard of care for the year that they were designed, and in my view are reasonably “safe” vehicles. I’m under no misconception that they’re going to save me from foreseeable collisions.

    Whose fault is it when I am injured?

    In the case cited, the tragedy occurred while the young lady was riding in a low-end, high center of gravity vehicle produced for a low price point. Should we be surprised that GM did not design this vehicle with the idea that it would roll over and “protect” its occupants? If anyone happened to look at the NHTSA stats for this series vehicle, it is apparent that it does not represent even the state of the art for vehicles produced that year. Let’s say that the Mercedes GL was much more safe. Does tort law suggest that GM had to meet the same standard of care?

    Where does the responsibility of the consumer come into play? Are we consumers to be considered entirely ignorant of the consequences of decisions we make in the vehicles that we buy or in which we are passengers?

    I’d guess that the current vehicles produced by GM in this same class will perform far better in the same circumstances, yet there are no doubt conditions under which the occupants are not “protected” by the vehicle. If we all have access to this information, and thus the ability to understand relative safety in vehicles, on what premise is the manufacturer liable?

    Kurt is quite correct. Each time I drive or am a passenger in a vehicle, I am making a choice to risk my life in that vehicle whether it is a 400 lb superbike or a 3 ton Suburban. There are conditions where the superbike can, when properly piloted, avoid an accident which will leave the Suburban tumbling off a cliff, just as there are conditions in which the superbike rider is severely injured and the Suburban driver suffers no injuries at all. Who’s responsible?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    I think there’s some immense point missing going on here.

    Assume arguendo that no, GM bears no responsibility for these accidents. In fact, perhaps you believe what paris-dakar does and you “oppose most product liability law suits on general principle.”

    That’s not the issue here. The issue is: does the law allow these people a chance to make their case to a judge, then a jury?

    Applying the law is not a philosophical issue; it’s meant to be highly technical. Philosophical debates about what product liability “should” be are meant for Congress, or possibly the White House, and definitely the internet.

    I am shocked to hear many people now saying that we should in this case ignore bankruptcy and product liability rules because these folks took on their own risk by getting into a car. That’s not the status of the law.

    We’ve seen gigabytes of complaints about the government disregarding the laws on the books when it comes to GM’s bankruptcy and reorganization.

    So the hypocrisy sword cuts two ways. It’s criminal for the government to ignore laws (possibly) but not so bad for GM to escape exposure to liability that is also established by law? Wrong. Everybody should be held to account to the laws on the books. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    One point to add:

    A number of people have said “you take on the responsibility by getting into a car. Manufacturer shouldn’t be liable.”

    In legal terms (and I do speak as a lawyer) this is called “assumption of risk.” It says in essence what a lot of people are saying — that in cases where a person takes on a very dangerous activity, they bear most of the responsibility for what happens.

    but

    “Assumption of risk” under the law doesn’t mean (and hasn’t meant for 100 years) that nobody else could have any iota of responsibility.

    It doesn’t mean you can never sue anyone else for playing a part in your injuries, even if you were primarily at fault.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    You can sue a ham sandwich, doesn’t mean you will win. It’s the litigation costs that are high which force settlements that either defendants admit no wrong doing or coerce them into positions that ultimately are wrong. Out of court settlements are used to ram further lawsuits through, more time than not by the same law firms.

    We need to streamline the lawsuit process so that both sides get their day in court without 6 figure legal bills. Note the lawyers tend to win no matter what. Even the contingency based lawyers use high profile cases to woo more business in.

    In these limited examples we see at the root of the accident the actions of a driver. The car didn’t flip over in the driveway by itself.

    If this keeps up choices are going to be limited or eliminated in the marketplace and we’ll wake up and ask “what happened?”.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Edwin sustained injuries because he lost control and hit a tree, not because air bags didn’t deploy. They are called supplemental restraints, not injury protection, devices. As horrific as Edwin’s injuries are it shows the value in careful driving, unlike Jack Baruth methods.

    So if Jack Baruth gets wrapped up can he count on this attorney to wrestle a few million from the maker of the car he totals?

    The airbag deployment is fascinating and in the end he is only entitled to a new air bag free of charge. The other injuries would have “possibly” occurred if he were in an accident. If he lost his hearing from an airbag deployment that saved his life would he be suing over it? This one reeks of gold digging and rainbow chasing.

    How about we garnish the wages and property of the driver of the SUV that paralyzed that young girl? He can spend the next 50 years taking care of her as penance for his actions. Run TV commercials with that byline and people will take it easier on the roads. Instead, we want a multimillion dollar payout from GM. No wonder these companies haven’t made money in years, or are afraid to design cars that are bold and different. They spend millions testing them just to be told a 50 dollar part was missing.

    Maybe the lawyers should run the car companies instead. Oh wait.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    GS650G :

    Sure, but with respect I think you’re still missing the issue. These people have legal standing to bring lawsuits against GM.

    It doesn’t matter whether their lawsuits are ultimately losers or if it will cost GM money to defeat them in the early stages on summary judgment.

    If we think the law should apply to GM’s bankruptcy and to the government in dealing with GM, then we must believe the law should apply here as well.

    We need to streamline the lawsuit process so that both sides get their day in court without 6 figure legal bills. Note the lawyers tend to win no matter what. Even the contingency based lawyers use high profile cases to woo more business in.

    I agree with you. Keep in mind both sides are in the wrong here. Large companies routinely use their access to Amlaw100 law firms to prevent legitimate lawsuits against them from seeing the light of day.

    Take for example Donald Trump, who is well known to refuse to pay the amount he agrees to in his contracts, and tells the people he owes money “Go ahead an sue me. I’ll make sure your legal fees exceed your winnings.”

    But this is neither here nor there. Bottom line as I see it: we have to follow the law in all cases. Even when we disagree with it.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    That’s not the issue here. The issue is: does the law allow these people a chance to make their case to a judge, then a jury?

    If I understand 363 correctly, the idea is to create a new legal entity – “New GM”. The old GM was an entity created by the laws governing incorporation. In both cases it takes the govt. to define the entity.

    It seems to me that future plaintiffs are no worse off than someone who is injured in a Studebaker. Studebaker is no longer around to be sued. Likewise, original GM isn’t around, or rather, it is, but it won’t be worth anything – and won’t be around for long. New GM is a separate entity and therefore should not be liable for original GM’s product liabilities. Perhaps it would be fair to make new GM liable for any claims already filed – assuming the plaintiff wins. I don’t see why New GM should be liable for a claim arising from a product defect in an ’87 Silverado, which may cause an accident a year from now. The whole idea is to get a fresh start, and get out from under contracts, liabilities, debt, and other obligations.

    By extension, Chrysler was a reorganization of the old Maxwell Co., so if Jack Benny ever gets into an accident…. But of course, these matters have already been settled with respect to Chrysler.

    What hasn’t been answered yet is why these objections -both the bondholders and plaintiffs in liability cases- should have any more success here than in Chrysler.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Dynamic88:

    You raise a number of excellent questions.

    I’m a bit busy with work (egad!) so I can’t address them right now, but if nobody else does by the end of the day, I will do my best to do so tonight.

    Unlike Mr. Jakubowski, I do not practice in or have lengthy experience in bankruptcy law, but I am an attorney nonetheless and ostensibly that means I’m qualified to talk about everything (and say nothing).

  • avatar
    agenthex

    If the .gov is assuming the authority to define what constitutes a ‘safe’ car, maybe they should bear some of the responsibility that goes along with that authority.

    That “authority” in this case is tendered by likes of you and me such that we are reasonably protected from either the negligence or otherwise of those who get to benefit from public roads and receive legal protection through incorporation and whatnot.

    In any case, what you’re describing is not exactly how system works. Perhaps you should’ve voted in more competent people (instead of pretend drinking buddies or morality police) who would likewise delegate these duties to more competent public servants.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    New GM is a separate entity and therefore should not be liable for original GM’s product liabilities.

    The whole point of S363 was to both maximize return for creditors through the auction process due to the “free and clear” nature of the asset sale.

    As mentioned above, there are conflicting legal goals including those to protect the consumer, which is fine; that’s why we have the legal system.

    Most likely, the feds will pay out reasonably for the substantive claims out of the kindness of taxpayer hearts rather than fight to the bitter end and probably win, not unlike the warranty deal.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Oh, BTW, a PSA for all the smart investors out there.

    The last day for competing bids on old GM’s assets is today:

    http://bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a4Ly7v8rUexg

    Get in while you can so we get less bitching after the fact about what a great deal you missed out on.

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    Perhaps you should’ve voted in more competent people (instead of pretend drinking buddies or morality police) who would likewise delegate these duties to more competent public servants.

    You have to love the Obama-Bots, keeping the Internet classy one rude, tendentious and ultimately pointless post at a time…

  • avatar
    agenthex

    You have to love the Obama-Bots, keeping the Internet classy one rude, tendentious and ultimately pointless post at a time…

    I believe the classy ones are those who screw everyone over yet still have the gall to make accusations.

    Classier still is then preaching about how GM never learns.

  • avatar
    Steve Jakubowski

    Dynamic,

    This is an adversarial system we live in. If arguments aren’t made to the Court, then the Court is not likely–particularly under the supersonic speed the case progressed in Chrysler–to do the independent research to find contrary arguments. I got involved in GM because I felt that additional arguments, critical arguments, needed to be brought to the Court’s attention or else the result in Chrysler would be repeated. Read the brief filed by us and compare it with the objections lodged in Chrysler. There’s much more meat on the bones here, particularly in terms of (A) applying the many tools of statutory construction to reach the right determination of what 363(f) permits, and (B) the arguments challenging the Court’s jurisdiction to make the requested findings and ruling. Also, it’s a different judge and he’s not bound by what another bankruptcy judge did. He’ll probably reach the same result on all the other issues; I’m hoping the issue I filed an objection to is the exception to the rule. Time will tell, but I’m not giving up until the “fat lady sings.”

  • avatar
    greenb1ood

    While I agree that some of these particular cases don’t sound like they have much merit due to driver error and/or negligence, the idea of absolving Chrysler and GM of past sins in the area of safety is not a good idea.

    Especially if you remember that the last couple years before filing Chapter 11 could be classified as ‘desperate times’ where “desperate measures” such as reducing the effectiveness of safety systems could have occurred.

    I have knowledge that Chrysler did engage in some risky behavior in this respect and will not allow anyone I care about to ride in a 2005+ Chrysler product as a result in case their sins went deeper than what I was made aware.

    While the editorial is rather ‘ambulance chaser” in it’s delivery and the involvement of Mr. Jakewbowski may be more self-serving for future judgments ($$$) than that of seeking justice, allowing the NEW companies comprised of mostly OLD employees and officers to side step liability would be a serious affront to justice.

    And if you still disagree, consider that a corporation is considered very similar to a ‘person’ in the eyes of the law.

    I am also a person, and if I commit vehicular manslaughter and file for bankruptcy, the New Me has no hope of avoiding any potential prosecution or civil suit liability…why should GM?

  • avatar
    Steve Jakubowski

    FYI Greenblood, I’m a bankruptcy lawyer and have been so for 25 years. Take a look at my bio. See me chasing ambulances ever? I’ve never tried a personal injury case in my life, and don’t plan on. Sorry, but when I hear of people getting crushed, becoming a quadriplegic, losing every dream they’ve dreamt, and resigning themselves to having to be cared for the rest of their lives… and then hear that the company that may be responsible for that is trying to walk scot-free and say bankruptcy law permits them to do so, and then win (ala Chrysler), then I get pissed, and in this case got so pissed that I decided to do something about it. All this proves to me is that one person really can make a difference in the world. If this result comes out differently from Chrysler, I can tell you the only difference between Chrysler and GM as far as this issue goes is my involvement in strengthening existing arguments (on statutory interpretation) and adding new ones (on jurisdiction), plus a different judge. But otherwise the objectors, issues, and other briefs filed are virtually identical. And if the result turns out the way I hope and expect, then I’ll be glad I had something to do with giving hope back to people who had lost all of it. That’s payback enough for me. See, not every lawyer’s blood is green, Greenblood.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Setting aside tortuous discussions about tort reform, as flawed as it is, it is often the only way to hold company’s feet to the fire. I think there is ample evidence of corporate malfeasance to demonstrate the necessity for that.

    The merits of these cases are hard to know with information presented, at first blush they seem tragic but the culpability of GM is unclear to me. However, to wriggle out of all responsibility for all possible claims seems, frankly, to be outrageous and I think that’s the larger point.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    That’s payback enough for me. See, not every lawyer’s blood is green, Greenblood.

    You’re entitled to your views and your clients deserve to have their own advocate, of course. But in my opinion, you should admit to the audience here (the majority of whom are not knowledgable of the law) that you are arguing the creditor’s side of the story, and that there is a debtor’s argument or two that you are not presenting.

    It seems to me that you would have to debunk the legitimacy of the 363 sale for this position to hold. Since there are already cases in which courts have determined that asset buyers need not be subject to successor liability, you appear to have an uphill battle with your argument.

    If you think that there is not a true sale of assets here and that this is a sham sale meant to prevent creditors from collecting as much as they would under 7, then you might have a point. But that the severity of the victims’ injuries doesn’t prove or disprove that the sale is a sham, so the anecdotes appear to be a distraction.

  • avatar
    Steve Jakubowski

    The debtor’s side is in the Chrysler opinion, which I spend a lot of time in my brief explaining why that opinion was wrongly decided. If the debtor files a response, I’ll be sure to post it. My objections are really technical on what the permissible boundaries are of a 363 sale, not of its legitimacy. Anyway, thanks for reading and responding.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Gee PCH you leave that bleeding heart at home when it comes to YOUR business. :O

    I have to ask, why are the workers somehow more deserving of special status than plaintiffs? The GM case is supposedly so special because of the size, but doesn’t that mean that there are bound to be valid claims? Make a million cars, someone will get hurt.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    My objections are really technical on what the permissible boundaries are of a 363 sale, not of its legitimacy.

    Sure, I understood that. My point here was that these technical arguments favoring successor liability would seem to go against you in light of existing case law, so I question your ability to prevail.

    The use of anecdotes also suggests that you may attempting to argue based upon the sympathy that might be created by the facts, instead of based upon the law, as the law doesn’t necessarily work in your favor.

    why are the workers somehow more deserving of special status than plaintiffs?

    They aren’t, and if you would get past your anti-union biases, you would see that they aren’t.

    It comes down this: the VEBA is a creditor, so it has to be dealt with somewhere on the priority list. The NewCo will need workers to make stuff. In order to make this move quickly, they want to throw a bone to the workers, so that they’ll come back to work.

    That’s all it is. NewCo doesn’t care whether some injured person is cared for, because it doesn’t help NewCo to operate the business. Workers are needed for operations, though, hence the desire to cut a deal with them.

    In both the GM and Chrysler deals, secured creditors are getting all of the available cash. For both sets of secured creditors, that is the best deal available, and they have nothing to complain about.

    If the Chrysler lenders don’t like it, tough. They’ll know next time around not to make loans to companies that sell products that people don’t like at a loss.

  • avatar
    greenb1ood

    Steve:
    Pch101 stated it well so I won’t restate:
    “The use of anecdotes also suggests that you may attempting to argue based upon the sympathy that might be created by the facts, instead of based upon the law, as the law doesn’t necessarily work in your favor…so the anecdotes appear to be a distraction.”

    I am not accusing you of being an ambulance chaser. I am accusing you of writing an article that makes you sound like one.

    You would be better served with this audience to leave out to specific stories and focus on the faulty product attributes.

    Good luck in your efforts regardless.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Isn’t Newco really just a synonym for the workers here? This isn’t about union, so forget my rational though energetic anti union stance. This is about employees. The owners are getting diddly in order to save jobs. Why jobs over plaintiffs?

    Why can’t plaintiffs at least get worhtless stock?

  • avatar
    Steve Jakubowski

    I agree that the stories went on way too long, and sorry about that. That’s one disadvantage of a cut and paste function. Still, I do think the personal side of this issue is important.

    Discovery production from GM and Treasury starts in earnest tomorrow, then into the hearing on Tuesday, so thanks for your well wishes… We need it! I may think we should win, but I’d say our odds are pretty low.

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    It seems to me that future plaintiffs are no worse off than someone who is injured in a Studebaker. Studebaker is no longer around to be sued.

    Ah, but McGraw-Edison is around. Courts have accepted McGraw-Edison as the holder of successor liability for Studebaker. So someone is around to be sued for Studebaker.

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