Automobile

Judge denies FCA employees’ request for victim status, restitution in bribery case

More than 200 employees who worked or are working for Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. unit will not be considered victims of a long-running scandal that involved the automaker’s representatives paying off members of the UAW, a federal judge said Monday.

Judge Paul Borman of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that the company funneling $3.5 million to the union between 2009 and 2016 did not negatively affect the 234 workers in question in the lawsuit.

FCA US, which is now part of Stellantis, pleaded guilty this year to one count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act. The automaker agreed to pay a $30 million fine and undergo independent compliance monitoring for three years.

The employees alleged that the bribes caused them to receive suboptimal work agreements. Labor negotiations took place within the aforementioned time frame. Stellantis spokeswoman Jodi Tinson declined to comment on the latest ruling.

The plaintiffs hoped to prove they were victims using a previous racketeering case, involving General Motors and FCA, which stemmed from the same bribery scandal.

Plaintiffs claimed the previous case acknowledged FCA’s UAW employees were “direct victims of FCA’s bribery scheme,” but Borman wrote that was incorrect. GM sought but was denied victim status, with the court deciding the automaker was not a direct victim of FCA’s bribes.

Borman denied the FCA plaintiffs’ motion for restitution. The decision confirms the earlier settlement between FCA US and the U.S. government, which also did not grant restitution to the employees.

A sentencing hearing for FCA is set for 1 p.m. Aug. 17.

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