GM seeks shield from suits over ignition switch woes

LONDON -- General Motors Co. has filed suit in a U.S. bankruptcy court asking a judge to protect the company from legal claims for actions that took place before it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

The suit was filed Monday evening in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. A hearing has not yet been set.

The filing asserts that the "numerous lawsuits" recently filed throughout the United States dealing with GM's recall of cars with possible ignition switch problems are "retained liabilities" of the old GM, not the new company.

It says the recall involves vehicles "manufactured and sold by Old GM" and asks Judge Robert Gerber to protect the "new GM" from claims.

GM has said at least 13 deaths have been linked to the ignition problem.

Last week, a federal judge in Texas denied an emergency motion that would have forced GM to tell owners of 2 million recalled cars to stop driving their vehicles until their ignition switches are repaired.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos issued her order Thursday in Corpus Christi. Attorney Robert Hilliard, who represents some owners, had argued that the GM cars could at any moment lose power and expose their occupants to serious injury or death.

GM had urged the court not to intervene and instead let a recall overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proceed. The carmaker said extensive testing had shown that if the recall instructions were followed, there was no risk that the ignition switch would fail.

The company is facing intense scrutiny from federal regulators and lawmakers over how long it took to inform car owners about the ignition switch issue.

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