The United States Senate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Justice are investigating the nightmare caused to drivers when their small General Motors cars suddenly became disabled at highway speeds.
This turned off the power steering, power brakes and air bags in various Chevrolets, Pontiacs, Saturns, and other GM vehicles, making a car crash — and possibly death — inevitable. Due to a 13 year delay in issuing recalls, over 300 people have died and thousands of people have been injured. GM has finally gotten around to recalling 9.4 million vehicles under intense pressure.
Senate Hearings Today
Today, GM’s chief executive officer and chief counsel are being grilled by U. S. senators at a consumer protection committee hearing. The CEO Mary T. Barra, was lambasted by this committee in April.
The high ranking chairwoman, Senator Claire McCaskill, also ripped into GM’s legal department, which fought the lawsuits brought by the victims of the collisions even after the company kinew that its defective switch was to blame. Senator McCaskill wondered why its chief counsel had not been fired and described the company as having a “culture of lawyering up” which “killed innocent customers.” She noted that GM’s long-delayed recall showed “indifference, incompetence and deceit.”
The CEO sheepishly promised that “we will do everything in our power to make sure this never happens again.” Let’s hope she — and other companies doing the same thing — means it.
General Motors has fired 15 attorneys and engineers who were involved in the cover-up and established a huge settlement fund for victims who drop their existing lawsuits or decide not to file suit. But in a hard ball move, if a victim does not accept the out of court settlement, GM will argue that the case is barred because it filed for bankruptcy in 2009, thus forcing innocent people to accept less than what a jury might award in damages.
Deadly Collision One Hour Outside of Dallas In 2004 And Lawsuit
Gene Erickson and many others sadly died due to an easily repaired ignition switch. When asked why Mr. Erickson’s car suddenly lost power, causing him to crash into a tree in Ben Wheeler, Texas in 2004, GM officials at first claimed ignorance. Later the massive company invoked attorney-client privilege or refused to respond to the question.
This is despite the fact that one of its engineers had already written a report showing that the Saturn Ion had become disabled due to the switch. Nothing was done about the problem.
No, quite the opposite happened. GM’s attorneys blamed the driver of the Erickson vehicle, Candice Anderson (and has gone after other drivers), for causing the wreck. Ms. Anderson, who was 21 at the time, was even forced to plead guilty to criminal negligent homicide after it was found that she had a tiny amount of Xanax in her system. Ms. Anderson has suffered from the guilt of causing her boyfriend’s death for the last 10 years. Senator Richard Bluementhal today called her conviction a “perversion of the justice system” and asked the CEO if she would contact Governor Perry to have the conviction overturned. Ms. Barra refused to do so. Ms. Anderson has announced that she is going to file suit against GM for its fraud and for the injuries she sustained.
Several things make the ignition switch sudenly fail. The car could hit a bump, the ignition switch or steering column could be jarred by the driver’s knee, or the key ring could be too heavy and pull the switch down. Deaths from these conditions were reported over 10 years ago. However General Motors refused to issue a recall and fix the problem.
GM discovered the problem in 2001 when tests showed the ignition switch changed from the run position to the accessory or off position. GM later wrote a report saying that it had fixed the problem, but a GM engineer found that the issue had not been resolved. No other action was taken. More fatal crashes followed. Now GM has been forced to admit that it was negligent and that it could have repaired millions of its vehicles and prevented hundreds of deaths.
Press Uncovers The Truth About GM’s Cover-Up
The New York Times published another illuminating article yesterday that proved just how dishonest General Motors has been with federal regulators — and the American people — over the last decade.
Amber Marie Rose, who was only 16, died in 2005 when her brand new Chevrolet Cobalt crashed. Her death was the first death that was linked to the problem. According to the New York Times reports, the crash “was an early warning in what would become a decade-long failure by GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to address a problem that engineers and regulators had been alerted to years ago.”
Safety — Not Profits — Must Come First
GM’s fatal ignition switch scandal has once again brought the issue of automobile safety to the forefront. Like so many times before, it was not until lawsuits were filed that the truth revealed: a giant corporation had manufactured a dangerous product that killed and severely injured innocent victims, knew about it, refused to repair the problem, continued to sell the dangerous product and make vast profits, and when confronted, denied that it was at fault, but promised to do better in the future.
A caustic 315 page report written by a former U.S. attorney released in May condemned the company. It detailed how employees in every department failed to fix this simple defect for years, even though everyone knew that lives were at stake. The CEO said the findings were “deeply troubling” as she met with over 1,000 employees in a Detroit suburb. But the report cleared the CEO and her top executives from wrongdoing. “It seems like the best report money can buy,” observed Senator Richard Blumenthal. “It absolves upper management, denies deliberate wrongdoing and dismisses corporate culpability.”
GM has put over 2.6 million dangerous cars on the road which have endangered Americans. Hundreds have died and thousands have been injured as a result of its “profit over safety” focus. The cost of fixing the life-saving part was only 57 cents. Hard to believe, isn’t it? GM’s revenue last year was a staggering $155 billion. Only now that the media has pounced on this case has the corporation finally agreed to repay the victims.
We Can Help You
If you or a loved one has been injured or has died as a result of the defective GM ignition switch, please contact us immediately The law imposes time limits on when you can bring suit for your injury or wrongful death claim, and if a person delays, his or her rights to seek justice are barred. Our experienced GM recall lawyers are here to fight for you and help you get the compensation that you deserve.