Earlier this month, car manufacturer GM hired an additional attorney to assist with their legal woes, this one is a specialist in disaster payouts. A hearing was held to obtain further information regarding the faulty ignition switches that GM allegedly knew of but never resolved. The attorney was hired after chief executive of GM, Mary Barra, announced that the company was considering paying the damages to the surviving families of the victims of deaths related to crashes caused by the defective ignition switches installed on some compact GM models. The disaster payout attorney, Kenneth Feinberg, has handled payouts for several huge cases across the nation, including cases related to 9/11 and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.This is pretty big news due to the fact that GM learned of the issue in 2001 and this is the first time that GM has acknowledged that they may pay damages to the victims’ families.
Surprisingly, chief executive Barra even hinted at the fact that she doesn’t feel GM is responsible for the crashes. She stated, “GM has civic and legal responsibilities, and we are thinking through exactly what those responsibilities are.” She went on to state that “I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced in that program, but I can tell you that we will find out.” She said she is deeply sorry but she still can’t tell anyone why GM failed to resolve the issue years ago. Barra called GM’s actions “unacceptable” and “disturbing.” Basically, Barra used her words to dodge questions related to the actual reason for the hearing: How and why did GM repeatedly fail to fix faulty ignition switches on Cobalts and other compact cars. Barra took over as GM’s chief in January, right before an engineering panel was going to recommend a recall of defective Cobalts and other compact cars. There have now been 13 deaths linked to the faulty ignition switches, which will suddenly cut off power to the engine and deactivate airbags.
Barra had been working with GM for more than 30 years as an executive before she became chief. With all those years of experience and knowledge, she still stated that she had no idea about how serious the ignition switch problem was until the recall was recommended on January 31. In other words, she failed to recognize a serious problem, that lead to numerous untimely deaths, for over a decade. Barra’s expected earnings for the year exceed $14 million.
Barra wasn’t the only person under fire at the hearing; an administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, David Friedman, has also been criticized for failing to detect the defect even though there were reports that something was wrong. Those reports include consumer complaints, early warning data, special crash investigations and manufacturer information. Apparently, since 2001, none of those reports offered sufficient evidence to necessitate a recall. Despite the criticism he faces, however, Friedman vowed to “hold GM accountable” should they fail to provide appropriate and timely information to the regulators. Further hearings are to be scheduled to hopefully get more questions answered. Additionally, hiring Feinberg and establishing a compensation fund could prove impractical and be little help for this case.
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Call one of the experienced Myrtle Beach injury lawyers at The Mace Firm for South Carolina legal services. One of The Mace Firm’s personal injury lawyers is ready to speak with you about your case.