DETROIT (AP) — A federal appeals court ruling that General Motors can't use its 2009 bankruptcy to fend off lawsuits over faulty and dangerous ignition switches exposes the automaker to billions in additional liabilities, according to legal experts.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Wednesday ruled that GM knew about the defective switches when it entered bankruptcy seven years ago but kept them secret from the bankruptcy court. By failing to disclose the problems, GM prevented crash victims from making claims or contesting the bankruptcy provisions, robbing them of due process, the court ruled.

In a 74-page opinion, a three-judge panel said that GM essentially asked the court to reward it for concealing claims. "We decline to do so," the court said.

Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.

GM Will Pay $900 Million Over Ignition Switch Scandal
NEW YORK (AP) Sep 17, 2015, 11:10 PM ET

General Motors agreed to pay $900 million to fend off criminal prosecution over the deadly ignition-switch scandal, striking a deal that brought criticism down on the Justice Departmentfor not bringing charges against individual employees.

The switches, which can slip out of the "run" position and cut off the engine, have been linked to at least 169 deaths.

Despite evidence that GM's legal and engineering staffs concealed the problem for nearly a decade, no employees were charged Thursday, though U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the investigation is still going on.

Also Thursday, GM announced it will spend $575 million to settle the majority of the civil lawsuits filed over the scandal.

Under the deal with prosecutors, an independent monitor will be appointed to oversee GM's handling of safety problems. Two charges drawn up against GM — wire fraud and scheming to conceal information from government regulators — will be dropped after three years if the automaker cooperates fully.

GM agreed to a statement of facts that describes in scathing terms its deceptive and dismissive approach to the defect.


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