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Judge upholds GM bankruptcy shield

The company is protected against more than 100 lawsuits seeking damages estimated to be worth $10 billion.

General Motors has emerged victorious in an important legal dispute over liability for pre-bankruptcy claims.

Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber last month hinted that he was considering dropping the bankruptcy shield, however his final judgment upholds the original protections that were put in place during the 2009 restructuring.

The ruling immediately affects a few cases related to pre-bankruptcy crashes, however it will likely be cited by the company in hundreds of other lawsuits that are premised on nullification of the shield. Lost-value claims are said to be worth more than $10 billion, according to The Detroit News.

"Hundreds of victims and their families will go to bed tonight forever deprived of justice," Bob Hillard, an attorney for several plaintiffs in related cases, said in a statement. "GM, bathing in billions, may now turn its back on the dead and injured, worry-free."

Attorneys representing plaintiffs have argued that GM acted improperly during the bankruptcy proceedings, allegedly concealing known defects. They claim the lawsuit shield should be lifted for claims related to the ignition-switch defect.

Gerber, the judge who oversaw the original bankruptcy proceedings, left the latest ruling open for immediate appeal.

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