Local attorney: GM suits may be fruitless

Shona Scott was paralyzed when the roof of her car caved in, breaking her neck. Her lawyer blames weakened steel for the roof's collapse.
Shona Scott was paralyzed when the roof of her car caved in, breaking her neck. Her lawyer blames weakened steel for the roof's collapse.

Written by: Eileen Jones - bio | email
Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - If you drive a General Motors vehicle, are seriously hurt in an accident and claim GM is negligent, the company may or may not honor your claim.

Just like Chrysler, the now bankrupt GM may not have to pay. One woman in Georgia who is being represented by a local attorney says she's anxiously awaiting to see what the court will do on just such a claim.

Albany, Georgia resident Shona Scott has been confined to a wheelchair for more than two and a half years. She had wreck in a GM made automobile.

"Somebody phrased it as...I had a Friday night car," Scott recalled. "And then I was asking what is that and they said that's the type of vehicle they put together in a hurry because they're ready to get off [work]."

The driver of her 1994 Pontiac Bonneville fell asleep behind the wheel and the car left the road.

So why would GM be at fault for an auto accident that left Scott quadriplegic?

"The roof caved in and it broke my neck," she explained. "So, I'm paralyzed from the breast down. I have limited mobilities in my hand. I can move my legs some," she said.

Cole Portis, Scott's attorney, filed a claim stating the roof on that particular General Motors car is "defective...and unreasonably dangerous."

Portis was hoping to take the case to trial in the fall, but GM has asked the bankruptcy court for a stay, basically stopping the case from proceeding.

"I mean they've just gotten how many billions of dollars from the federal government? I'm asking them to set up a fund to fund these personal injury claims. If they don't we're certainly going to ask for congressional intervention," Portis said.

The big question now is will the bankruptcy court rule, as it did with Chrysler, that GM doesn't have to honor or pay any lawsuits on vehicles it has already made?

"I was very angry and I still am angry. And all I want is my day in court so I can let the court know and let the people know what this product and what them cutting back on materials has done to my life and many other people out there," Scott said.

Her attorney's biggest concern is that he can't give his client any certainty she'll ever get her day in court.

WSFA 12 News asked General Motors for a statement and received one. "We won't discuss specific claims or the possible outcomes, as they will be determined by the court."

Scott's lawyer says she wants to seek therapy at the Shepard's Institute in Atlanta, but there is no money to do it.