By on March 26, 2014

Chevrolet Cobalt Sedan

General Motors CEO Mary Barra and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acting director David Friedman will testify before the United States Senate on April 2 about their respective parties’ handling of the ongoing GM ignition recall crisis just as two senators introduced a bill expanding public access to safety filings made by all automakers to the federal government.

Automotive News reports Barra and Friedman will take questions from the Senate Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection panel. Their joint appearance follows their first before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee the day prior. Both hearings are expected to seek answers to questions surrounding how both GM and the NHTSA responded in the move to recall the defective ignition switch found in a handful of 2003 – 2007 GM models.

Automotive News also says Senators Ed Markley of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut introduced a bill which would require automakers to submit the first document of a fatality involving one of their products to NHTSA, who would then make said document and subsequent documents available to the public through an easy-to-use database. The bill reinforces the 2000 TREAD Act’s requirement of early-warning reports to be submitted to the agency, and to make that information accessible to the public.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reviewed 19 of 23 reported fatalities linked to the defective ignition switch, and found that GM either dismissed their link to the fatalities in question, or settled out of court under the veil of confidentiality. In one case, threatened to sue for reimbursement of legal fees unless lawsuits were dropped

One of the suits in question, settled between Georgia lawyer Lance Cooper and GM in 2013 — is finding new life as part of a 12-way lawsuit filed in San Francisco against the automaker over allegations that not every car affected by the defective part has been recalled, according to Automotive News. At the time of the suit, Cooper obtained hundreds of documents related to the part, along with depositions from a handful of engineers responsible, some of which are now making a public appearance in the new suit for the first time.

Separately, USA Today reports Alabama resident Steve Smith and attorney Jere Beasley have filed a lawsuit on behalf of Smith’s daughter, Aubrey Wallace Williams. Williams lost her life late last year when her 2006 Cobalt’s ignition switched off, causing loss of control that led to her crossing in front of an 18-wheel log truck. The suit comes after the recall news prompted a new investigation into Williams’ accident.

Finally, Detroit Free Press reports Niharika Taskar Ramdev will become GM’s new treasurer, who will oversee the automaker’s capital market activities and investor relations. Ramdev will report to newly appointed CFO Chuck Stevens, who says her main focus will be on “maintaining [GM's] fortress balance sheet, achieving investment grade credit ratings and developing a sustainable capital allocation strategy.”

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

14 Comments on “GM To Go Before Senate Panel, As Allegations Of Hardball Tactics Surface...”


  • avatar
    gtrslngr

    Let the revelries begin ! GM slowly but surely getting their just desert for decades of lies as well as all the schadenfreude they let lose with when Toyota hit the gauntlet . Only with GM …. guaranteed gentlemen … as I’ve said before … and will most likely say a hundred times more …

    This is barely the dust – covering the seagull droppings – on the tip – of the very top – of the Iceberg that is GM’s eventual downfall . The only genuine question being …. will the US government finally drop the hammer on this gang of thieves … or like so many times in the past .. let them off with a slap of the hand and a tax payer funded check in their back pocket ?

    IMO ? Its time for us [ US ] to take the Antipode view of things and yank this parasite known as GM off our backs once and for all

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      Oh, if it were that easy. GM and the other auto makers are international in scale. They are also well represented in various governments. If you kill any of these Goliaths, you take down much else as collateral damage. Face it, the tail now wags the dog. We’re more and more governed by corporations that often seem larger and more powerful than the countries they inhabit. Contrary to what Mitt Romney thinks, corporations are not people, they’re monsters often to big to slay.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Same as the Toyota thing, but a lot more hot air and acrimony I expect.

  • avatar

    “who says her main focus will be on “maintaining [GM\'s] fortress balance sheet, achieving investment grade credit ratings and developing a sustainable capital allocation strategy.”

    That’s one of the issues. They are trying to maintain cash piles to get back to investment grade status product development be damned. See silverado et. al.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Thank you Cameron, that’s a very good current status compilation and summary. After having spent half a decade in recall prevention, I am watching this very closely.

  • avatar
    carguy

    While Nissan takes advantage of this distraction opportunity to recall nearly a million cars with airbag deployment issues.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Nissan case is a passenger side airbag and it gives you a warning light when inoperative. And oh yeah, the are, you know, actually issuinga recall in the decade the cars sold in.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        I had a 1995 Nissan Altima that was recalled for the passenger airbag about 2001, because it deployed too strongly and women and children could be hurt.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    “In one case, (GM) threatened to sue for reimbursement of legal fees unless lawsuits were dropped.”

    Not at all unique corporate behavior, but certainly despicable.

    This, by the way, is why corporations are always eager to press for “tort reform” of “frivoous lawsuits.” It’s often the only opportunity to hold them accountable, and they often don’t like that. “Ambulance chasers” may deserve our contempt, but if they’re an evil, in this case they’re a quite necessary one.

    • 0 avatar

      > . “Ambulance chasers” may deserve our contempt, but if they’re an evil, in this case they’re a quite necessary one.

      “Evil” is more of a post hoc value judgement, and in any case rarely applicable to intent. Individual corps or lawyers simply/predictably do what is profitable.

      In this instance and esp under an adversarial judicial system, both sides introduce their own account of events, and it’s incumbent upon those passing judgement to take sides judiciously.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Tough questions for stockholders to ask: Why design a new switch for these models? How did a Cobalt switch (at least, the detent parts) differ from an Impala switch? Couldn’t proven, existing switch design(s) have been used? Does GM have more kinds of ignition switches than, say, Ford or Toyota? If so, why?

  • avatar

    GM CEO Mary Barra to testify before US Congress.

    the pressure may become unbarrable, careening her career…

    but done right, it could ignite.

    good luck Ms. Barra.

    • 0 avatar
      oboylepr

      Can’t help thinking that Mary was put in there to take the fall for messrs. Wagoner, Henderson, Lutz and Aker. (sounds like a law firm).
      Good luck to her.

  • avatar

    > Meanwhile, The New York Times reviewed 19 of 23 reported fatalities linked to the defective ignition switch, and found that GM either dismissed their link to the fatalities in question, or settled out of court under the veil of confidentiality.

    LOL WUT:

    “A New York Times review of 19 of those accidents — where victims were identified through interviews with survivors, family members, lawyers and law enforcement officials — found that G.M. pushed back against families in at least two of the accidents, and reached settlements that required the victims to keep the discussions confidential.”

    Some folks need to get over the fact that no amount of yellow journalism is going to bring RF and EN back.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India