Outside of bankruptcy, General Motors and Chrysler were no longer competitive enough to remain solvent. After Chapter 11 reorganization, the two automakers will have a clean financial statement and a whole lot fewer employees, plants, and dealers. Another area where the two automakers will receive a clean bill of health is product liability lawsuits, and the savings will be huge, The Detroit News reports. GM, for example, had $928 million in liability expenses (including court costs and lawyer fees) in 2008 and $1.1 billion in 2007.
The government has ruled that the new GM and Chrysler will not be held liable for vehicles sold by the old GM and Chrysler. Lawyers are still debating whether or not cars and trucks purchased after bankruptcy proceedings began will be covered, but anything before bankruptcy is apparently out of the picture. University of Michigan law professor and bankruptcy scholar John Pottow told the DetNews that GM lawyers gave him the impression that it was the government that was driving this issue:
"What's fascinating about this is that it is the government taking the hard line here, insisting that the new company should emerge free of those liabilities. It's the government actually thinking like hardheaded investors instead of taking the more predictable, more socialist line."While the two companies' ledgers will look better without the threat of liability, the move is brutal for those who are awaiting trial or have already been awarded money but have yet to receive any funds. Those who have been permanently disabled as a result of alleged vehicle defects will now likely never receive a dime for their injuries. While pre-bankruptcy liabilities will be swept under the rug, GM and Chrysler will continue to cover all applicable warranties both pre- and post-bankruptcy.
In the meantime, attorneys general from a number of states aren't taking the matter lying down – eight separate states have filed objections to the provision in federal bankruptcy court on Friday.
[Source: The Detroit News]