— The lawyer credited with first exposing defects in ignition switches in General Motors cars has filed a motion asking a judge to remove three lawyers from the so-called "bellwether" trials in New York.
Lance Cooper, who discovered the defective ignition switches while representing the family of GM victim Brooke Melton, asked the judge to remove attorneys Steve Berman, Elizabeth Cabraser and Robert Hilliard. Cooper accuses the attorneys of making poor decisions concerning six test lawsuits filed against GM.
The first of those lawsuits was recently dismissed after evidence suggested plaintiff Robert Scheuer lied to the court concerning many of his claims. Shortly before the lawsuit was dismissed, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman made mention how the attorneys should have vetted their client better.
Mr. Cooper agrees and says the case that went first shouldn't have been first because it wasn't the strongest case. Mr. Cooper says Scheuer was chosen as the lead case so the three plaintiff attorneys could have control and reap any fees from the case.
Mr. Cooper further said Scheuer shouldn't have been first in line because any alleged injuries were minor and the car wasn't able to be examined because it had been destroyed after the crash.
Cooper said the dismissal of the Scheuer trial is an "embarrassing retreat" that wouldn't have occurred if the attorneys had correctly performed the tasks at hand.
In a second motion filed by Cooper, he wants the judge to pull back on approval of a settlement fund concerning 1,380 lawsuits by claiming the fund didn't benefit all the plaintiffs.
Mr. Cooper accuses attorney Bob Hilliard of conducting a settlement process behind closed doors that primarily benefited Hilliard and his own clients. Cooper alleges Hilliard has made it difficult for remaining plaintiffs to receive money from GM, something that should cause the judge to rescind the settlement agreement.
Hilliard and the other plaintiff attorneys have denied all allegations leveled by Cooper.