SEATTLE—Aug. 15, 2014—Attorney Steve W. Berman, managing partner and co-founder of Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, has been named co-lead counsel in the high-profile, class-action lawsuit against General Motors Co (GM). The case covers claims resulting from personal injuries and diminished vehicle value related to GM’s recall of millions of vehicles over faulty ignition switches and other possible defects. Berman has been serving as temporary lead counsel in the GM litigation.
“I am appreciative that the court has the confidence to appoint me as one of the co-leads, in the face of heavy competition from other talented lawyers who wanted to run the case,” Berman said. “It’s an awesome responsibility, and I pledge to do a good job for the consumers who have these defective cars.”
Since February 2014, GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles over problems with the ignition switch, and has since recalled millions more with other possible defects. According to published reports and government documents, GM had knowledge of the serious defect as early as 2001, but critics charge that the company ignored warnings of the defect’s severity and did not warn consumers.
Berman served as co-lead counsel in negotiating a $1.6 billion settlement for consumers from Toyota Motor Corp. in 2013, following claims of sudden, unexplained acceleration in many of its vehicles. “The Toyota litigation would be a valuable road map for plaintiffs suing GM,” said Berman. “I spent two-and-a-half years of my life dealing with the issues (in Toyota) that we’ll deal with here.”
Berman was chosen from a field of dozens of lawyers. Forty presented in-person during four-minute pitches to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, who is overseeing the case, during a hearing Aug. 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In addition, other attorneys had submitted written applications.
“I am honored to be chosen to help make restitution to consumers who put their faith in this iconic company,” Berman said. “I also intend to send a message that deters other companies from acting in such an aberrant fashion. It is unconscionable how GM has handled this issue from start to finish.”
Furman stated that his selection criteria included firms’ experiences handling complex litigation, their automotive experience and their ability to represent the interests of a diverse group of plaintiffs. The Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) currently contains at least 109 lawsuits, including more than 90 economic loss suits and about a dozen personal injury cases.
Additional information on the case is available here.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with offices in nine cities. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List seven times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Find the firm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/classactionlaw.
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NOTE: Berman is available as a legal expert for any upcoming stories you may be doing on the GM litigation. Contact Aaron Blank at 206-343-1543 to schedule an interview.
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