In a motion filed this week – described as “no easy motion” but “the right motion” that “has to be made” – a plaintiff’s lawyer in the GM ignition switch multidistrict litigation asked Judge Furman to remove the plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel and reconsider the bellwether trial schedule in the wake of GM’s victory in the first bellwether case. The motion claims that the co-leads prioritized the order of bellwether trials in concert with GM based on the potential share of fees and not the merits of each case. The motion further alleges that the case originally scheduled for the first bellwether trial (which, according to the motion, was much stronger on the merits) was removed when counsel would not agree to split the fees with the co-leads.
As a result, according to the motion, GM’s victory in the first bellwether and upcoming schedule of weak cases has reduced any potential recovery for all of the plaintiffs:
This motion gets to the heart of the MDL process and what should be the expectations for lead counsel and the MDL actions. The Co-Leads may argue that their actions are “business as usual” in MDLs. If so, “business as usual” in these MDLs must stop. All MDLs ultimately are about the parties – all parties, not just the parties who happen to be the clients of a Co-Lead. There is no excuse for what happened with [the first bellwether trial.] Not is there any excuse for the mismanagement that has plagued this litigation since the Co-Leads were appointed. The breaches of fiduciary duty outlined above should compel this Court to remove the Co-Leads, appoint new Co-Leads, and examine whether the current bellwether trial schedule is in the best interests of the injured victims[.]
Our previous coverage of the case is here.