DePuy Hip Replacement Lawsuits Consolidated in Ohio

A federal judicial panel has ruled that all pre-trial proceedings in federal lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics related to recalled hip replacement devices will be consolidated before United States District Judge David Katz in Toledo, Ohio. 

Judge Katz has experience with multi-district litigation proceedings having previously overseen hundreds of claims involved in the Ortho Evra birth-control patch litigation.

Click here if you want to read the panel's decision to consolidate the DePuy hip cases before Judge Katz.

DePuy Hip Implant Recall Update

On August 26, 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, announced the recall of its hip implants known as the ASR XL and ASR Hip Resurfacing systems.

More than 93,000 hip implants were sold worldwide before DePuy stopped production in 2009. The latest information indicates that approximately 40,000 were implanted in the United States from sometime before the Food & Drug Administrations (FDA) approval in August 2005 through August 26, 2010, the date of the recall.

While the reported failure rates indicates that as many as one in eight patients may be forced to undergo revision surgery, we believe this underestimates the real number of explants and revisions that ASR hip patients will be forced to undergo.

Lawsuits filed thus far allege the DePuy ASR implant is defective and fails due to certain design flaws. Specifically, the ASR implant is a metal-on-metal implant. Two huge failure issues have emerged with metal-on-metal implants: one, the devices slip or the shell does not sit in place in the hip acetabulum and it resists bone growth; and, two, the friction of metal-on-metal causes microscopic metal shavings to be released into the surrounding blood and tissue.  This release of metal can cause elevated blood levels of cobalt and chromium, which can cause “metallosis”, or an inflammatory reaction to the elevated metals in the tissue and the blood.

If you or a loved one has a DePuy ASR hip implant, you should contact your doctor immediately to be evaluated .  After consulting with your doctor, or if your doctor has already informed you that your hip implant has been recalled, you should contact a lawyer to determine what legal rights and claims you may have against DePuy.

General Motors Recalls Chevrolet Impala Over Faulty Seatbelts

General Motors has recalled over 300,000 Chevrolet Impalas.  The recall effects only 2009 and 2010 year model vehicles.  The Impalas are being recalled because General Motors determined through warranty claims that seatbelts in the front seats may not be properly anchored, which can cause the seatbelts to separate during a crash and leave passengers unrestrained.

Customers will be notified by General Motors' dealers by October 25 if their Impala is subject to the recall. Owners of the recalled Impalas will have to have the anchors for their seatbelts reinstalled, which General Motors will handle free of charge.

DePuy Orthopaedics Announces Hip Implant Recall

DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has announced the recall of two DePuy ASR hip implants after a large number of reported hip failures and revision surgeries.  Approximately 93,000 DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System implants and Depuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System implants are included in the recall.  These implants have a high failure rate, requiring many patients to undergo revision surgery for a second hip replacement procedure.  The risk of DePuy hip problems was especially high in women and those with implant heads below 50 mm.  Adverse event reports increased dramatically between 2006 and 2009, with nearly 100 reports in 2007, over 200 in 2008 and over 300 in 2009.  According to reports, in most cases, the DePuy ASR complications involve situations where individuals require additional surgery to replace the defective hip implants.

Individuals who have received the DePuy ASR hip implant should contact their orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation of the implant.

Several lawsuits across the country have been filed in both state and federal courts regarding the DePuy ASR implants and a motion has been filed to centralize the cases in a federal multi-district (MDL) proceeding.  A ruling on the motion to centralize the cases in an MDL should be determined by the end of the year.

Toyota Settles High-Profile Sudden Acceleration Case

Toyota Motor Corporation has settled what is considered to be the most high-profile of all the sudden acceleration cases pending against it in state and federal courts across the country.  The settled case involved the August 2009 deaths of  California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law.  Saylor's 911 call recorded the dramatic and tragic events that unfolded before Saylor and his family were killed after the Lexus ES  he was driving crashed over an embankment.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the settlement was reached during a mediation between the Saylor family and Toyota this past June.  Terms of the settlement are confidential, although sources have indicated the family sought a $10 million settlement.

Interestingly, the settlement did not include the Bob Baker Lexus dealership, which had loaned the car to Saylor.  According to the dealership's lawyer, Larry Willis, "Toyota has sought to protect only its own interests. They decided to cut out their own dealer."  Because the settlement could materially effect the case against the dealership, its' attorney has indicated he will oppose keeping the settlement confidential.  The court where the Saylor case was pending in California is expected to take up the confidentiality issue in the coming days.

 

Toyota Begins Shipping New Accelerator Pedals

Today, Toyota Motor Corp. announced that its accelerator pedal supplier began shipping newly designed pedals to dealers to fix the company's sticky gas pedals that have required 4.2 million vehicles to be recalled.  According to reports, federal regulators did not object to Toyota's repair plans.  A more detailed announcement by Toyota is expected to be made Monday.

In the meantime, contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 if you have questions about your vehicle. The Toyota Customer Experience Center hours are: Mon.–Fri. 5:00 am-6:00 pm PST, Sat. 7:00 am-4:00 pm PST.

Toyota Extends Recall And Suspends Sales Over Accelerator Problem

Yesterday, Toyota Motor Corporation extended its recall from last fall and added an additional 2.3 million vehicles to the recall list over problems with accelerators in a number of its most popular vehicles.  Toyota also suspended sales and stopped production of a number of the models subject to the recall until a fix can be implemented. The accelerator problem has been linked to a number of motor vehicle accidents throughout the country involving serious injuries and deaths to occupants.

This has been a public relations nightmare for Toyota that is not getting any better as each day passes.  While Toyota has told federal investigators that it thinks a friction problem in its accelerator pedal mechanisms may make the pedal "harder to depress, slower to return, or, in the worst case, mechanically stuck in a partially depressed position", CTS Corp, the supplier that makes the devices for Toyota, said in a statement Wednesday that the friction problem accounts for fewer than a dozen cases  stuck accelerators and, "in no instance did the accelerator actually become stuck in a partially depressed condition".   

The Toyota vehicles subject to the recall include the following makes and models:

  • 2009-2010 RAV4
  • 2009-2010 Corolla
  • 2009-2010 Matrix
  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • 2007-2010 Camry (except hybrids)
  • 2010 Highlander (except hybrids)
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
  • 2008-2010 Sequoia
No Lexus Division or Scion vehicles are affected by the new recall. Also not affected are Toyota Prius, Tacoma, Sienna, Venza, Solara, Yaris, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser, Highlander hybrids and Camry hybrids, which will remain for sale.
 

According to Toyota, if you experience a sticking accelerator pedal while driving, you should take one of the following actions:

• If you need to stop immediately, the vehicle can be controlled by stepping on the brake pedal with both feet using firm and steady pressure. Do not pump the brake pedal as it will deplete the vacuum utilized for the power brake assist.
• Shift the transmission gear selector to the Neutral (N) position and use the brakes to make a controlled stop at the side of the road and turn off the engine.
• If unable to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine OFF. This will not cause loss of steering or braking control, but the power assist to these systems will be lost.
• If the vehicle is equipped with an Engine Start/Stop button, firmly and steadily push the button for at least three seconds to turn off the engine. Do NOT tap the Engine Start/Stop button. 
• If the vehicle is equipped with a conventional key-ignition, turn the ignition key to the ACC position to turn off the engine. DO NOT remove the key from the ignition as this will lock the steering wheel.  

Customers who have any questions or have experienced any issues with their accelerator pedals should visit Toyota.com, contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331, or call their local Toyota dealer.

NHTSA Investigation Reveals Other Potential Factors Leading to Fatal Lexus Crash

On September 29, I wrote about a fatal crash that occurred this past August near San Diego, California that led Toyota to recall approximately 3.8 million vehicles.   According to investigators, the 2009 Lexus ES 350 being driven by a California Highway Patrol Officer  as a loaner vehicle from a Lexus dealership accelerated to as fast as 100 mph before striking another vehicle, launching off an embankment, rolling several times and bursting into flames.  Four people died in the crash.  Just before the crash occurred, a 911 call from one of the vehicle's passengers told police the vehicle had no brakes and that the accelerator was stuck.  Investigators believed the driver's side floor mat was the culprit. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's investigation into the California crash is  revealing  more potential factors in the cause of the crash than just the design of the driver's side floor mat., including the following:

  • The driver's side floor mat was made for the Lexus RX400h SUV, not the Lexus ES350.
  • The Lexus at issue had a keyless ignition, which uses a start/stop button to start and stop the engine. There is no traditional key to turn if you need to shut the engine off in an emergency. In the case of the ES350, the button needs to be held for three seconds before it will turn off the engine if the car is in gear. Toyota says it considered this a safety feature to prevent the engine from turning off if the button were pressed accidentally. However, the NHTSA report points out that the Lexus at issue was traveling 100 mph—that’s the equivalent of traveling one and a half football field in three seconds.  Also, NHTSA pointed out that there is no instruction near the dashboard that tells owners or operators about how to shut down the engine by holding it down for three seconds..

The initial report filed by the NHTSA can be reviewed by going here.

AstraZeneca Settles Seroquel Claims For $520 Million

According to the New York Times,  AstraZeneca  has agreed to settle two federal investigations and two whistle-blower lawsuits for a total of $520 million over the sale and marketing of its psychiatric drug Seroquel.  The names of the whistle-blowers and other details regarding the investigations remain under seal in federal court.

Due to aggressive marketing by AstraZeneca, Seroquel had been used for children and the elderly for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Seroquel had been the top selling antipsychotic drug in the United States, with sales exceeding $17 billion since 2004.

AstraZeneca has been served with approximately 14,444 product liability lawsuits over Seroquel.  Through discovery in some of those cases, Plaintiff's counsel Ed Blizzard says an internal email message from a company official  regarding Study 15 stated "a great 'smoke and mirrors' job"  had been done on a "buried" study in 1997, the year Seroquel was approved by the FDA.

Toyota Hit With Temporary Restraining Order

In what appears to be the first case in Texas to be filed against Toyota seeking to reopen previously settled product liability cases, Judge T. John Ward, who presides over the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, signed and entered a temporary restraining order against Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. and several in-house counsel for Toyota regarding document retention related to Toyota motor vehicles. 

The temporary restraining order arises out of a civil RICO complaint filed in Judge Ward's court by Raul Lopez, a plaintiff who previously settled a personal injury case with Toyota years ago.  Mr. Lopez filed a RICO complaint on September 25 seeking to reopen his case after Dimitrious Biller, a former in-house attorney for Toyota, filed a federal lawsuit in California alleging Toyota has illegally withheld and destroyed evidence in hundreds of rollover injury and death cases over  the past several years. 

The temporary restraining order issued by Judge Ward yesterday orders Toyota, and essentially anyone who works for or with Toyota, to:

  1. Issue litigation holds on all documents in any form pertaining to any make, model or year platform vehicle;
  2. Issue litigation holds on all documents in any form pertaining to any non-production vehicle evaluation pertaining to product liability or crashworthiness issues;
  3. Issue litigation holds on all documents in any form pertaining to research projects that involve issues related to product liability or crashworthiness issues;
  4. Issue litigation holds on all documents that are presently or will be subject to any type of document retention policy;
  5. Issue litigation holds on all documentation and all communications sent to outside Counsel, outside experts, or outside contractors.

Judge Ward also set a show cause hearing  for October 7, 2009, at 1:30 pm, for Toyota to show why the temporary restraining order should not be converted to a preliminary injunction.

The style of the case is Raul Lopez, et. al. v. Toyota Motor Corporation, et. al., Cause No. 2:09-CV-292.

 

Toyota Recalls 3.8 Million Vehicles

Today, Toyota Motor Sales, USA announced it was recalling approximately 3.8 million vehicles to address problems with removable floor mats that could cause the accelerator to become stuck and lead to a crash.  This recall is the largest recall in Toyota's history.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal government has received notice of 102 incidents involving Toyota vehicles where the accelerator became stuck while being operated.  While it is not clear how many of the 102 reported incidents resulted in injuries or deaths to occupants, Toyota spokesperson Irv Miller stated "[a] stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop a vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death."  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated "this is an urgent matter" and warned owners of affected vehicles to remove the floor mats from the driver's side immediately.

This past August near San Diego, a 2009 Lexus ES 350 being driven by a California Highway Patrol Officer accelerated to 120 mph before striking another vehicle, launching off an embankment, rolling several times and bursting into flames.  Four people died in the crash.  Just before the crash occurred, a 911 call from one of the vehicle's passengers told police the vehicle had no brakes and that the accelerator was stuck. Investigators believe the floor mat may be to blame for the incident.

 

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Mitsubishi Recalls 2010 Endeavor For Defective Airbags

Mitsubishi has recalled 531 Endeavor model vehicles from the 2010 model year as a result of certain vehicles having potentially defective airbags. Specifically, the recall results from the retainer bracket for seat-mounted airbags on both the driver and passenger side airbags being incorrectly welded. If the faulty welding condition exists in a vehicle, the side airbags may not deploy correctly in a side impact crash, possibly resulting in serious injury to an occupant.

The vehicles involved were manufactured by Mitsubishi between May 26 and July 28, 2009.  Mitsubishi began notifying owners within the last week and issued a "stop sale"  on all 2010 Endeavors until all potentially effected vehicles can be inspected.

Any of the recalled vehicles will be inspected by a Mitsubishi dealer and repaired at no charge to the customer.  Customers can contact the Mitsubishi Customer Relations Department at 1-888-648-7820.

Toyota Attorney Accuses Company Of Hiding/Destroying Evidence

Dimitrios Biller, a former in-house attorney for Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. has accused the car maker in a lawsuit filed in federal court in California of illegally withholding evidence in hundreds of rollover injury and death cases in a "ruthless conspiracy" to keep evidence of its vehicles "structural shortcomings" from becoming known.  Biller alleges that his complaints to Toyota executives about the illegal conduct cost him his job.  Biller also complains that Toyota misled the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when the government was considering tougher regulations for roof strength.  While Toyota has denied Mr. Biller's allegations, this has created a mess for Toyota which could lead to the reopening of hundreds of cases that were previously resolved through settlement or trial.

Chrysler Group, LLC To Accept Product Liability Claims

In a letter to Senator Dick Durbin yesterday, Chrysler Group, LLC, announced it will accept product liability claims on vehicles manufactured by the former Chrysler, LLC (formerly known as "Old Carco, LLC") which were/are involved in accidents on or after June 10, 2009 (the date Old Carco filed for bankruptcy protection).  This is a major reversal in Chrysler Group, LLC's position on this issue.

As part of a bankruptcy court-approved sale transaction, the "new" Chrysler Group, LLC would not have been responsible for product liability claims related to vehicles sold before June 10, 2009 by Old Carco.  Most people buying vehicles on or after June 10, 2009, and manfactured by Old Carco, had no idea they would not be able to hold the manufacturer responsbile for any product defects because the claims would  have been extinguished by the bankruptcy process.  Naturally, this outraged consumer rights advocates.  By accepting these product liability claims, Chrysler Group, LLC's position is consistent with that of General Motors and is a major victory for consumers.

Honda Recalls 440,000 Vehicles Containing Defective Airbags

Honda Motor Co. has recalled an additional 440,000 of its vehicles which contain defectivce airbags.  Affected models include the 2001-2002 Honda Accord, 2001 Honda Civic and 2002-2003 Acura TL.  Honda has said that airbag inflators in some of the sedans can rupture because of too much air pressure causing metal fragments to shoot through the airbag and strike occupants in the vehicles.  At least one fatality and several injureis have been caused by the defect.  The recall will require the driver's side steering-wheel-mounted airbag inflator to be replaced.

Honda is mailing a recall notice to registered owners of the vehicles in question to schedule a repair.  Honda owners can also log onto Honda's website at www.owners.honda.com/recalls and click on the "Owner Link" to get the status of their recall. 

Medtronic Recalls Insulin Pump Infusion Sets

Medtronic, Inc. has recalled Paradigm "Quick-set" infusion sets that patients use with Medtronic's Minimed insulin pumps.  Both Medtronic and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration have notified health care professionals that the recalled Quick-set infusion sets at issue may not allow the insulin pumps to vent air properly, which could then lead to the device either delivering too much or too little insulin and may lead to serious injury or death.

The affected infusion sets contain reference numbers MMT-396, MMT-397, MMT-398, and MMT-399 with lot numbers starting with the number "8".  Medtronic has advised that patients should immediately discontinue using any "Lot 8" Quick-set infusion sets.  Medtronic has agreed to replace any of the recalled infusion sets at no additional charge.

Patients with questions about how to return the recalled infusion sets and arrange for replacement sets should contact Medtronic at 1-800-345-8139.

Bridgestone Extends Firestone Tire Recall

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (BATO) has extended its 2008 tire recall to include an additional 127,000 tires that were manufactured in its Costa Rica plant in 2007 and 2008.  The model being recalled is the Firestone brand FR380 P235/75 R15.

According to BATO, these particular tires were manufactured without sufficient tread base gauge which could then lead to vibration and groove cracking.  Further extended use of these tires could then lead to tread distortion and tread separation and possible loss of control of the vehicle. 

Anyone one using these tires should have them replaced immediately.  BATO has said the tires will be replaced free of charge.  Anyone who has questions about this recall or has questions about where they can get their tires replaced can call 1-800-465-1904.

General Motors Agrees to Accept Future Product Liability Claims

According to the Wall Street Journal, a new court filing late Friday by General Motors Corporation ("GM") makes clear the auto manufacturer has agreed to assume legal responsibility for injuries caused by vehicle defects occurring after it emerges from bankruptcy protection.  This concession from GM means consumers who are injured in car wrecks after GM emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but in vehicles that were manufactured before GM filed for bankruptcy protection and during GM's bankruptcy proceeding, will still be able to bring product liability claims against the "new" GM.

Specifically, the filing on Friday by GM states that GM will:

"expressly assume all products liability claims arising from accidents or other discrete incidents arising from the operation of GM vehicles occurring subsequent to [the emergence of New GM], regardless of when the product was purchased."

This is, without question, seen as a major victory for consumers who are injured in car wrecks involving GM vehicles.  Previously, under the terms of GM 's original bankruptcy plan, GM would have been able to avoid such liabilities after selling its "good" assets to a "New GM" owned by the government.  According this new filing, consumers will now be able to seek compensation for their injuries if they were injured in a  vehicle manufactured by the "Old GM", whether the vehicle involved was manufactured before or after GM sought bankruptcy protection, as long as the wreck occurred after GM emerges from bankruptcy protection.

While this is seen as a major victory for consumers, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of claims that were pending against GM before it sought bankruptcy protection.  As of right now, it appears GM intends to leaves those liabilities behind in bankruptcy.  However, consumer advocates argue the "New GM" should accept those liabilities as well.  A hearing on Tuesday before the bankruptcy court should shed some light on whether or not the "New GM" will also agree accept liability for those pending claims.

Hydroxycut Recalled After FDA Issues Warning

Hydroxycut, a group of dietary supplements sold by Iovate Health Sciences, Inc. in New York, has been voluntarily recalled from the market by Iovate after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about potential serious health risks through the use of the supplements.

The Hydroxycut dietary supplements are marketed for weight loss, as fat burners, as energy-enhancers, as low-carb diet aids, and for water loss.  According to the FDA, there have been serious liver injuries reported through the use of these products including, elevated liver enzymes, jaundice and liver damage which required a liver transplant.  At least one death due to liver failure has been reported to the FDA.

According to the FDA, signs of liver damage include:

jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes) and brown urine, nausea, vomiting, light-colored stools, excessive fatigue, weakness, stomach or abdominal pain, itching, and loss of appetite.

The FDA has warned consumers to stop using the Hydroxycut products in order avoid any undue risk.  The Hydroxycut products which have been recalled include the following:

  • Hydroxycut Regular Rapid Release Caplets
  • Hydroxycut Caffeine-Free Rapid Release Caplets
  • Hydroxycut Hardcore Liquid Caplets
  • Hydroxycut Max Liquid Caplets
  • Hydroxycut Regular Drink Packets
  • Hydroxycut Caffeine-Free Drink Packets
  • Hydroxycut Hardcore Drink Packets (Ignition Stix)
  • Hydroxycut Max Drink Packets
  • Hydroxycut Liquid Shots
  • Hydroxycut Hardcore RTDs (Ready-to-Drink)
  • Hydroxycut Max Aqua Shed
  • Hydroxycut 24
  • Hydroxycut Carb Control
  • Hydroxycut Natural

Eleventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Accutane Lawsuit

On June 10, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court's granting of summary judgment in favor of Hoffman-La Roche, Inc., the manufacturer of the drug Accutane.  The case involved the tragic death of the son of U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich), who was 17 years old when he took his own life.  Laurie Stupak sued Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. alleging the manufacturer was negligent in failing to warn that Accutane (an acne drug) could cause suicide without any premonitory (warning) symptoms.

The package of Accutane that B.J. Stupak was taking did not warn of a risk of suicide without any warning symptoms.  The court ruled, however, that because Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. did not know at the time that patients using Accutane could experience a desire to kill themselves without any warning signs, the drug manufacturer could not be held liable. 

U.S. Supreme Court Clears Sale of Chrysler Assets to Fiat

Late yesterday, in a two-page order, the U.S. Supreme Court decliend to hear a challenge by three Indiana state funds and consumer groups regarding the sale of Chrysler's assets to Italian automaker Fiat.  In the order, the Supreme Court did not address the merits of the challenge by the Indiana funds. Rather, the order simply said that the Indiana funds "have not carried the bruden" of proving that intervention by the Supreme Court was necessary.

In another win for Chrysler on Tuesday, bankruptcy judge Aurthur J. Gonzalez approved Chrysler's request to terminate 789 dealer franchises immediately over the objections by scores of dealers.

As a result of the decisions by the U.S Supreme Court and Judge Gonzalez on Tuesday, there is a clear path for the sale of Chrysler's assets to Fiat and Chrysler is expected to emerge from bankruptcy very soon, possibly as early as today.

U.S. Supreme Court Delays Chrysler Sale To Fiat

Today, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg temporarily delayed the sale of Chrysler's assets to Fiat after two groups petitioned the high court for review of orders approving the sale by the bankruptcy judge and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court's order does not state how long the delay will last.  Chrysler has claimed its deal with Fiat is a critical part of its plan to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and that if a sale to Fiat does not close by June 15, Fiat has the option of pulling out of the agreement, leaving Chrysler with no other choice but to liquidate.

U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Block Sale of Chrysler Assets

On Saturday, the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to block the sale of Chrysler assets to Italian automaker, Fiat, by two groups.  One group, consisting of Indiana state pension and construction funds argues that the terms of the sale favor unsecured creditors at the expense of secured stockholders and that the use of TARP funds to finance the bankruptcy is unconstitutional. 

The second group protesting the sale is a group of individuals that claim the terms of the sale would limit their ability to recover in product liability actions filed against Chrysler.  Last Monday, in a ruling that outraged many consumer rights advocates, the bankruptcy judge overseeing the Chrysler bankruptcy ruled that Fiat could not be held liable for product defects in Chrysler vehicles.

Justice Ginsberg has the authority to isse or reject a stay herself or refer the application to the full U.S. Supreme Court.

Second Circuit Upholds Chrysler Bankruptcy Assets Sale

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit approved the sale of most of the assets of Chrysler to Italian automaker Fiat.  However, the court of appeals said the deal could not be completed until June 8 or until the U.S. Supreme Court decides not to hear the case.  The deal is primarily opposed by a group of Indiana pension funds that acquired $42.5 million in secured Chrysler debt last year.  The pension funds argue the deal is unfairly biased towards secured creditors.

In addition to approving the sale of Chrysler's assets, the bankruptcy judge overseeing the Chrysler bankruptcy also ruled that Fiat will not be responsble for any future product liability claims filed by the owners of current Chrysler vehicles.  It is believed General Motors will likewise seek the same relief in its bankruptcy proceeding regarding future product liability claims involving vehicles it manufactures before coming out of bankruptcy.