Kenneth Feinberg, the man in charge of the General Motors compensation fund dealing with the its widespread ignition switch woes, has issued an informal, two-letter response to the plaintiffs in more than 70 lawsuits seeking redress for lost resale value of their Cobalts: "No." The cases were recently combined into one, but Feinberg told The Detroit News that the fund will deal "only with death and physical injury claims," and that "perceived diminished value" will get no consideration.
ALG, the firm specializing in establishing residual values, determined that Cobalt owners had lost $300 compared to the segment competition and doesn't envision any long-term effects from the recall situation. Feinberg's statement comes in advance of public details on how the compensation fund will work and adheres to GM's long-held position on the matter. The company has already asked a judge to throw out such suits using the pre-bankruptcy defense, even as it stopped using that defense in cases of injury and death.
With plenty of potential gain from the GM suit, however, don't expect the plaintiffs to give up yet. When Toyota was sued for the same reason during the unintended acceleration debacle, it eventually settled the case for between $1 billion and $1.4 billion just to get it over with. Since the 85 law firms involved in the Toyota litigation took home more than $250 million of that total, we shouldn't expect the attorneys to give up on a GM payout, either.