NEW YORK/DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- When Robert Kleven switched on the news for his drive to work two weeks ago, he had no idea he was about to sink a high-profile lawsuit against General Motors and embarrass one of the best-known plaintiffs’ lawyers in the U.S.
The news anchor described a long-awaited trial starting in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that day, the first over a deadly defect in millions of GM ignition switches. The plaintiff was a 49-year-old postman named Robert Scheuer. Kleven, a real estate agent in Tulsa, Okla., knew that name. Two years earlier, he said in an interview, Scheuer had pulled a fast one on him.
Scheuer had altered a government check stub to make it look like he had hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank, Kleven said. On the strength of that stub, Kleven had let Scheuer and his wife, Lisa, move in to a new house in suburban Tulsa before they had paid for it. He had to evict them and their two daughters, he said, when he learned that Robert Scheuer had added a “441” to the $430.72 stub to turn it into a deposit of $441,430.72.
So Kleven called GM.
“I didn’t want them getting away with another scam,” the 43-year-old agent with Concept Builders Inc. said.
The couple went on to testify under oath that injuries Robert sustained in a May 2014 wreck in their Saturn Ion had led to the eviction from their “dream house.” GM accused them of perjury. The Scheuers dropped their lawsuit less than halfway through the trial, without getting a penny from GM.