New York judge to encourage settlements of GM lawsuits

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A federal judge in New York says he'll encourage settlements in lawsuits brought on behalf of nearly 1,000 plaintiffs against General Motors for defective ignition switches.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman told dozens of lawyers at a hearing Monday that he'll be careful not to interfere with the work of a bankruptcy judge who's deciding if GM's 2009 bankruptcy protects it from economic damages claims.

Furman made introductory remarks at an initial hearing after he was chosen to preside over more than 100 lawsuits that were consolidated in New York because of their common attributes.

GM says at least 13 people have died in 54 crashes linked to the problem, while lawyers suing the company say the death toll is more than 60.

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