More law firms take aim as GM begins settlement negotiations.
Two law firms have reportedly joined forces to file several hundred additional lawsuits against General Motors, as the company begins negotiations with a separate attorney responsible for more than 300 claims.
Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. of Montgomery, Alabama has partnered with Atlanta-based The Cooper Firm to consolidate their discovery efforts in the cases against the automaker.
Attorney Lance Cooper was one of the first to file a lawsuit related to the ignition-switch defect. He represented the family of Brooke Melton, a Cobalt owner who died in a 2010 accident after her car's ignition key allegedly switched to the accessory position.
Melton's family already reached a settlement with GM last year, however many previous plaintiffs are returning to the court room in light of the recent revelations surrounding the defect.
"We believe that by joining forces in this manner we can help GM's victims take on the powerful automaker," said Jere Beasley. "General Motors has betrayed the American people, hid a deadly vehicle defect for more than 10 years causing numerous deaths of innocent victims. The company must now be held accountable for its wrongdoing."
Separate reports suggest Kenneth Feinberg, hired by GM as settlement consultant, has initiated negotiations with Corpus Christi lawyer Robert Hilliard, who represents the families of dozens of people killed and hundreds injured in accidents blamed on defective GM vehicles.
"I'm evaluating various compensation options for GM to consider," Feinberg told the Associated Press, without elaborating.
Hilliard reportedly claims that GM will not attempt to use its 2009 bankruptcy to block ignition-switch lawsuits. GM attorneys are already asserting such protections in court, though some analysts expect the company to establish a settlement fund rather than fight a multitude of potentially lengthy legal battles.