GM Seeks Special Protection from Bankruptcy Judge

US car manufacturer General Motors (GM) has revealed in court filings that it will submit a request to a federal bankruptcy judge to shield the company from legal claims for conduct that occurred before its 2009 bankruptcy.

The group wants the court to shield ‘new GM’ from legal claims for problems with its cars that occurred before 2009. GM’s strategy is in a motion filed in a Corpus Christi, Texas, federal court case, and in other cases across the US that involve defective ignition switches. The problem, which led to the group recalling 2.6m small cars, has been linked to at least 13 deaths.

According to reports, GM suspected a problem with the ignition switches in compact cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion as early as 2001 but failed to issue a general recall until recently. The fault resulted in fatal accidents when the vehicles’ ignition switches shifted from ‘run’ to ‘accessory’ while the car was being driven. The shift cut the engine and disabled the power steering and airbag.

The motion requests that US district judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos delay action on the lawsuit until the bankruptcy court rules and other federal courts decide if the case should be combined with other lawsuits. However, the carmarker said that it’s not asking to halt action on a motion to force GM to tell customers not to drive their cars that are being recalled.

Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive (CEO), has pledged to use the crisis over the company’s delayed vehicle recall as “a catalyst for change” now that the group is no longer fighting for survival.

Speaking at the JD Power automotive forum ahead of the New York Auto Show, Barra, who took over the CEO role three months ago, also said she wanted to change GM’s culture to increase its focus on customers.

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