GM Recall Law Firms Beasley Allen, Cooper Join in Litigation

Two law firms suing General Motors Co. over alleged wrongful deaths and injuries stemming from ignition switch defects said they have joined forces in the litigation.

Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles PC, based in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Cooper Firm, led by Lance Cooper and based in Marietta, Georgia, announced their coordinated effort today.

Cooper helped uncover GM’s faulty ignition switch by taking testimony from GM engineers during a wrongful-death suit he filed in 2011. The defective switches can unexpectedly cut power to cars and deactivate air bags. GM has recalled 2.59 million vehicles for the defect and linked it to 13 deaths.

Beasley Allen was involved in cases over claims that defective Toyota Motor Corp. cars accelerated spontaneously. The firm scored the first trial victory against the Japanese automaker last year, after which Toyota started settling death and injury claims related to the defect.

Jere Beasley, founding partner at Beasley Allen, said the two firms plan to file at least 200 cases jointly, according to a spokeswoman, Helen Taylor.

The partnership for the cases “will allow us to continue in our efforts to get at the truth of what GM knew and when they knew it,” Cooper said in a statement.

GM held preliminary talks with other law firms May 2 over accident claims stemming from the ignition-switch defect. Kenneth Feinberg, a lawyer advising the carmaker, said the meeting was “very preliminary” and that “GM has agreed to nothing.”

Economic Losses

GM also faces about 60 other suits, over economic losses that car owners have allegedly incurred from the recalls. It is trying to fend off those cases by claiming court orders in its 2009 government-led bankruptcy absolved it of responsibility for financial damages.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber in New York said he will rule later on GM’s liability.

The bankruptcy case is In re Motors Liquidation Co., 09-bk-50026, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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