In an opinion today resolving various in limine motions in one of the bellwether cases in the GM ignition switch litigation, Judge Furman ruled that GM could introduce evidence of its voluntary settlement program, in light of the fact that the plaintiff planned to seek punitive damages:
Given . . . the likelihood that [the plaintiff] will ask the jury to award punitive damages to punish New GM for putting millions of drivers at risk, the Court concludes that New GM should be entitled to show that it attempted to make amends after the recalls were announced by voluntarily establishing a settlement program with lower burdens of proof than the judicial system and paying out close to $600 million as part of that program. Such evidence is particularly probative with respect to the amount of punitive damages to award (if they are awarded), as the jury could conclude that there is less need for punishment and deterrence.