GM Ignition Switch MDL Judge Rules Discovery Should Proceed

The federal multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) judge overseeing the General Motors (“GM”) ignition switch cases, which are consolidated in the Southern District of New York, denied GM’s attempt to halt discovery of certain personal injury and economic loss cases before the court.

The court found unpersuasive GM’s arguments that discovery should await a ruling concerning the bankruptcy court’s enforcement of its earlier GM bankruptcy sale order. MDL Judge Furman instead determined that whatever the bankruptcy court rules, the discovery sought by plaintiffs “will be necessary anyway.” There are approximately 116 cases in the MDL, about 100 of which GM seeks to dismiss through enforcement of its bankruptcy sale order. But, Judge Furman’s order of last week addresses the post-2009 bankruptcy accidents and vehicles, which will require discovery no matter what the bankruptcy court decides with respect to the sale order.

The MDL court decided that proceeding with discovery now, “on a reasonable, but aggressive schedule,” would best advance the litigation and promote coordination with other courts considering related cases. However, Judge Furman ruled that such discovery should, for now, focus on documents to be produced; he deferred deposition discovery, except that of records custodians.