May 29, 2014 at 6:07 pm

GM judges hear claims of 60 deaths as defect suit merger mulled

A panel of federal judges heard arguments on where to merge 90 ignition defect suits against General Motors Co., with New York and California courts as the lead contenders, as lawyers for car owners claimed to know of many more related deaths than the 13 acknowledged by the automaker.

Corpus Christi, Texas lawyer Rudy Gonzales claimed to know of at least 60 deaths related to the defect, without providing the seven-member panel any evidence. The defect causes ignition switches in some cars to shut off while the vehicles are being driven, disabling power steering and preventing airbags from deploying upon impact.

The judges will decide where claims for economic losses associated with some of the 2.59 million recalled cars will initially be heard.