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Lawyer: GM suit against FCA will cost automakers hundreds of thousands of dollars

Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT -- Lawyer Bruce Sendek has been around a long time, including a four-year stint with General Motors' corporate counsel in the late 1970s and early '80s.

But he's never seen anything like GM's lawsuit against crosstown rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Sendek had a lot of questions, that started at word one -- literally.

"I do not necessarily accept on face value that GM's reason for bringing this lawsuit is what's stated in the first paragraph," said Sendek, a partner in Detroit-area law firm Butzel Long.

The first paragraph states: This lawsuit is categorically not against the nearly 50,000 hard-working women and men employed by GM who are members of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America ("UAW").

"It's not typical to highlight the people you're not suing and you're not blaming," said Sendek. "It's no doubt they wanted to try to deflect any assertion that they are trying to weaken the UAW. But there is a little too much protesting going on here."


Then again, nothing about the lawsuit is typical in what Sendek has seen in his 42-year legal career. The 95-page brief filed in U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan Southern division alleges conspiracies, names deceased officers, quotes passages from biographies and even includes a honeymoon photo.

"It isn't common for one of the Detroit Three to sue another one for anything, especially under RICO," said Sendek, whose partner at Butzel Long represents Al Iacabelli, one of the defendants cited in the lawsuit. "It's an unusual situation and they spent a lot of time weighing the pros and cons of bringing such a lawsuit."


GM CEO Mary Barra told investors last month that suing FCA, "was not a decision that we made lightly. It was something that we very, very carefully considered."


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