Last week, in one of the more delightful court orders I’ve read lately, a U.S. federal judge told the CEOs of GM and Fiat Chrysler to personally meet to resolve GM’s lawsuit against FCA, in part because the whole thing was a “waste of time.” GM then went over the judge’s head. Today, the judge delivered a wonderfully to-the-point response.
To recap: GM sued FCA in November because GM says it was disadvantaged during contract negotiations with the UAW, making GM’s labour costs more expensive than FCA’s because of corrupt bargaining. The lawsuit is GM’s attempt to extract some money from FCA, while FCA has maintained that it is meritless.
The case had proceeded as usual, but a hearing last week apparently went so poorly it inspired U.S. District Judge Paul Borman to order GM CEO Mary Barra and FCA CEO Mike Manley to meet to find a resolution. Borman later amended that order to say that Barra and Manley could have a lawyer present during the meeting, but that wasn’t enough for GM, which had in the meantime complained to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
GM said that Borman’s order was “a profound abuse” and “unprecedented,” and it didn’t mean “unprecedented levels of cool.” GM also said it wanted Borman off the case. Today, Borman fired off his latest salvo:
ORDER RESPONDING TO PLAINTIFF GENERAL MOTORS’ JUNE 27, 2020 LETTER TO THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT, ON
CASE NUMBER 20-1616
At the Noon, July 1, 2020 Zoom webinar, the Court will address a single question to GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, and to FCA’s CEO, Michael Manley; “Have you resolved this case?” “Yes” or “No.” No further elaborations or statements by CEO Mary Barra or CEO Michael Manley will be requested, or permitted. IT IS SO ORDERED
The stage was set, then, for what maybe was going to be one of the shortest and funniest judicial proceedings in history on Wednesday, all over Zoom. That was, at least, until the appeals court weighed in today after Borman did, staying Borman’s first order while the appeals court consider things. The appeals court also invited Borman to respond further, and I sincerely hope he does.