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Schnader Attorneys Featured in Media Reports Regarding the On-Going Auto Bankruptcy Cases

On June 15, 2009 by Schnader in Appellate

Barry Bressler, a partner in Schnader’s Philadelphia office, Rich Barkasy, a partner in Schnader’s Cherry Hill office, and Nancy Winkelman, co-chair of Schnader’s Appellate Practice Group and a partner in the Firm’s Philadelphia office, were mentioned in several articles this week that covered the Chrysler and GM bankruptcy cases.

Schnader represents the Ad Hoc Committees of Consumer Victims of Chrysler and General Motors, which consists of approximately 450 product liability tort claimants with approximately $2 billion in claims. The Firm is also representing a member of the committee of unsecured creditors in the Chrysler bankruptcy and two of the 15 members of the General Motors Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors.

On June 9, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal to block the sale of Chrysler to Fiat. Under terms approved on June 1 by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Arthur J. Gonzalez, the new Chrysler emerging from bankruptcy will not be liable for product defect claims involving any cars sold before it came into existence. In addition, under Judge Gonzalez’s order, anyone injured in a future accident involving the 31 million Chrysler vehicles currently on the road is also barred from suing the newly constituted Chrysler for compensation.

Within hours of the Supreme Court decision, the Schnader team, along with other lawyers in the case, began to map out alternative strategies that called for, among other things, going after Chrysler affiliates that were not part of the bankruptcy filing. Injured plaintiffs can also try to lay claim to the Chrysler assets left behind in the bankruptcy process, but there won’t be much left, according to Barry. “There are probably going to be some assets left in old Chrysler and some claims to be decided,” he said in an article that ran on CNNMoney.com. “[But] when you get all done liquidating that, you’re probably no more than half a cent on the dollar, and more likely zero.” The article, “Will GM, Chrysler leave injury lawsuits behind?” published on June 15, detailed the fight facing individuals who have injuries – in many cases very severe injuries – caused by GM and Chrysler products who are likely to not be compensated for their loss as a result of the bankruptcy of each company.

The case was also covered in the Philadelphia Inquirer (“Despite Phila. Law Firm’s Efforts, Chrysler Claimants Barred from Suing“) and the National Law Journal (“Plaintiff suits against automakers stall out“), where Mr. Bressler, commented on the pending GM bankruptcy, noting “[i]f they follow through, I expect the issues will recur but the facts may be different. In GM, there is no third-party buyer. Hopefully, that means there’s a stronger case for tort claimants as a whole. We have product liability/personal injury claimants, asbestos claimants, and environmental claimants as well as the future claims issue.”