GM wants judge removed in legal fight with Fiat Chrysler

DETROIT (AP) – General Motors (GM) asked a federal appeals court in the United States (US) on Friday to overturn an order that requires its CEO to meet with the head of Fiat Chrysler by next week to try to settle a lawsuit related to corruption by union leaders.

GM also asked the appeals court to remove US District Judge Paul Borman from the case.

GM is suing crosstown rival FCA alleging that it got an advantage by paying off union leaders to reduce labour costs during contract talks. FCA’s former labour chief, Al Iacobelli, is in prison, although the company denies that it directed any prohibited payments.

Borman described the lawsuit as a “nuclear option” that would be a “waste of time and resources” for years if he allows the case to move forward.

The judge ordered GM CEO Mary Barra and Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley to sit down without lawyers by July 1 and reach a “sensible resolution of this huge legal distraction”. Borman wants an update from them on a public video conference that same day.

In a court filing, GM called Borman’s order a “profound abuse” of power. “The court possesses no authority to order the CEOs of GM and FCA to engage in settlement discussions, reach a resolution and then appear alone at a pre-trial conference eight days later, without counsel,” GM’s attorneys said.

“Second, the court has no business labelling a properly filed federal lawsuit assigned to the court for impartial adjudication ‘a distraction’ or a ‘nuclear option’,” GM said.

General Motors Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra. PHOTO: AP