by: Jim Strickland Updated:
COBB COUNTY, Ga. - A Cobb County judge ruled Saturday that a local couple, whose daughter was killed driving a Chevy Cobalt, deserves a second chance at putting General Motors on trial.
An investigation into the crash that killed 29-year-old Brooke Melton in Paulding County in 2010 prompted the GM recall crisis.
GM attorneys argued the out-of-court deal struck after the crash of Brooke Melton's 2005 Cobalt was fair and square, and that the Meltons' lawyers have no legal way to change it.
"There's a court judgment that precludes him from filing a second lawsuit," said GM attorney Brian Sieve.
"They don't cite any cases across the country because there is none that supports the argument they're making. The argument is wrong as a matter of law," said GM attorney Robert Ingram.
The Meltons’ attorney, Lance Cooper, showed tape of the switch designer, who denied in a 2013 deposition having any knowledge of fixes to the Cobalt ignition.
A congressional investigation showed the testimony was untrue.
"They're on notice. It's fraud. We're just alleging fraud," said Cooper.
Ken Melton laid out the case for a trial in his daughter’s crash in an earlier interview with Channel 2's Jim Strickland.
"They lied. They withheld documents. If we had known all this information before we would never have settled in the first place," said Ken Melton of the $5 million settlement he is seeking to give back.
GM argued rescinding the settlement would set a dangerous precedent. Judge Kathryn Tanksley rejected that argument and denied GM's motion to dismiss the Meltons' new lawsuit.
"You're absolutely correct that every plaintiff could sue on every settlement agreement and allege fraud. But the reason they don't is that they don't have fraud; that they're happy with their deal. We're plowing new ground here. I understand that," she said.
The judge set a trial date in April 2016.
Brooke Melton's parents were not in court Saturday. Their attorney says they're thrilled.
GM issued a statement saying it's disappointed and will evaluate its options.
“GM is disappointed in the court's decision. We continue to believe that the parties reached a good faith settlement last year and that the court's prior order dismissing all claims against GM with prejudice after that settlement prevents plaintiffs from pursuing the same claims a second time. GM will review the court’s order once it is entered and will evaluate its options.”
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