Stay current on changes and developments in corporate law with a wide variety of resources and tools.
By Yin Wilczek
July 27 — A federal court July 24 rejected a bid by General Motors for a broad protective order that would have severely curtailed the use of pretrial discovery materials by plaintiffs' counsel in ongoing ignition switch defect litigation.
Instead, Judge Jesse Furman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the parties to confer on a more limited protective order and to submit a joint proposal—or competing proposals—by Aug. 6.
The targeted protection was warranted given some of lead counsel's statements to the press, Furman wrote.
Separately, the court has yet to rule on the plaintiffs' motion that GM be compelled to disclose privileged information based on the crime-fraud exception, filed earlier this month.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that the ignition switch flaw caused airbags in GM cars to fail to deploy.
A protective order previously imposed by the court remains in effect. GM sought to significantly expand the scope of the order, arguing that plaintiffs' lead counsel wanted to “try this case in the media,” and had made inflammatory comments about the company and released the identities of current and former GM executives involved in the case.
In partially denying GM's motion, the court found that even assuming that the company met its burden of showing good cause, public interest in the case weighs heavily against such “blanket” protection. It observed that the lawsuit has captured the attention of “scores of GM consumers and shareholders,” as well as the media and general public, and that pre-existing public interest weighs in favor of allowing public access to the discovery materials.
The court also noted that short of a broad order, it has alternative means of addressing GM's concerns, such as the discretion to enter prophylactic orders.
As part of that discretion, the court adopted a New York state professional conduct rule that subjects counsel to sanctions should they make public comments that would materially prejudice the litigation. It also directed the parties to confer on a narrow protective order covering the disclosure of certain deposition testimony and the personnel files of current and former GM employees.
To contact the reporter on this story: Yin Wilczek in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan Tuck at email@example.com
The opinion is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/In_re_General_Motors_LLC_Ignition_Switch_Litigation_Docket_No_114/9.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)