Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Co. (GM), left, and Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, center, listen during a news conference outside the White House after a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in Washington, D.C.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
General Motors is seeking to remove a judge who called its civil racketeering lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler a “waste of time” and vacate an order from earlier this week calling for the CEOs of the companies to meet independently to resolve their issues.
The Detroit automaker filed a petition Friday afternoon with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to grant mandamus, dismiss U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman’s Tuesday order for the sides to meet by July 1 and reassign the case on remand.
“Our commitment to justice includes a responsibility to expose corruption in our industry when we learn of it and seek damages when we are targeted and directly harmed,” GM said in an emailed statement. “Not pursuing justice rewards wrongdoers at the expense of honest, hard-working people.”
The automaker also rejected “the notion that seeking justice for the direct harm caused to GM is a ‘waste of time,’ a ‘distraction’ or a ‘diversion'” from more pressing and larger issues such as the coronavirus pandemic and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd. All were points used by Borman during a hearing Tuesday that included Fiat Chrysler asking the judge to dismiss GM’s lawsuit.
“General Motors has played a vital role in helping the country fight the COVID-19 pandemic, advance diversity and inclusion, and drive prosperity with good paying jobs,” the company said in the statement. “Nothing, including the RICO lawsuit we filed against FCA and three convicted former FCA executives, has or will distract GM and its leadership team from ‘fully providing their vision and leadership’ on these critical issues now and into the future.”
Fiat Chrysler, in an emailed statement Tuesday, agreed with “Borman’s observation that these are extraordinary times for our country, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the tragic death of George Floyd and the spotlight it has focused on racism and social justice.”
Fiat Chrysler issued the following statement on GM’s filing Friday afternoon:
“As we have said from the date this lawsuit was filed, it is meritless. It will not distract FCA from its mission to provide its customers with outstanding and exciting cars, trucks and SUVs and the continued implementation of its long-term strategy to create further significant value for all its stakeholders. This includes the landmark agreement to combine with Groupe PSA to create the world’s third largest global automaker by revenues.
FCA will continue to defend itself vigorously and pursue all available remedies in response to GM’s groundless lawsuit. We stand ready to comply with Judge Borman’s order.”
GM filed the racketeering lawsuit in November, alleging the company was harmed as a result of “corrupted” collective bargaining involving Fiat Chrysler leaders bribing union officials into taking company-friendly positions that resulted in unfair labor costs. It argued that although the United Auto Workers union uses “patterned” bargaining, GM did not receive the same benefits as the Italian-American automaker.
Gary Jones, the newly-elected President of the United Auto Workers (UAW), addresses the 37th UAW Constitutional Convention June14, 2018 at Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan.
Bill Pugliano | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Much of the lawsuit centers on the late-Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who unexpectedly died in 2018 and has been implicated in a federal probe into bribery and corruption of the union.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s case is ongoing, however federal prosecutors in May said GM was not currently a target of the yearslong investigation.
GM is seeking unspecified damages in the billions that, according to the lawsuit, “will be used for investment in the United States to grow jobs and for the benefit of employees.”
The federal probe has resulted in 14 convictions, including ex-UAW President Gary Jones and 10 other officials affiliated with the union as well as three former executives with Fiat Chrysler.