By on March 12, 2014


Things are going from bad to worse for General Motors amid the fallout related to the long-delayed recall of 1.6 million vehicles worldwide over a faulty ignition switch installed between 2003 and 2007, as both the U.S. Justice Department and a House panel plan to conduct separate investigations into the matter.

Automotive News and Bloomberg report the Justice Department’s investigation will focus on whether or not GM violated criminal or civil laws in failing to alert regulatory bodies sooner than they had about the switch, with lawyers in the U.S. Attorney’s Southern District of New York office leading the charge.

Meanwhile, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will determine if either the automaker or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — who is also conducting an investigation into the recall via a 107-question survey due April 3 — missed anything “that could have flagged [the] problems sooner,” according to Representative Fred Upton, who also added:

If the answer is yes, we must learn how and why this happened, and then determine whether this system of reporting and analyzing complaints that Congress created to save lives is being implemented and working as the law intended.

On top of the aforementioned inquiries, GM itself has hired Jenner & Block LLP chairman Anton Valukas to head an internal investigation into the handling of the recall. Valukas was the appointed examiner for the Justice Department in the inquiry of Lehman Brothers over the financial institution’s downfall in the run-up to the Great Recession in late 2008.

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16 Comments on “US Justice Dept, House Panel To Investigate GM Ignition Recall...”

  • avatar

    Hmmm???…I was an employee of GM during that time period. Now that it may become a legal matter, I will refrain from making any comments.

    That being said, I’m watching this story, and any other GM news, with more than just passing interest.

    As a guy that lives on a GM Canada pension, I do indeed, have a “dog” in this fight.

  • avatar

    NHTSA has some explaining to do:

    “Federal safety regulators (NHTSA) received more than 260 complaints over the last 11 years about General Motors vehicles that suddenly turned off while being driven, but they declined to investigate the problem,” According to the New York Times article where this quote came from, some people were very desperate to get help from NHTSA on this.

    ” Many of the complaints detailed frightening scenes in which moving cars suddenly stalled at high speeds, on highways, in the middle of city traffic, and while crossing railroad tracks. A number of the complaints warned of catastrophic consequences if something was not done.”

    NHTSA’s reply: ” “At this time, there is insufficient evidence to warrant opening a safety defect investigation,”

    Beyond that, I for one would like to know how many of those (dead) people were being idiots behind the wheel, drunk in causing those crashes, or who would have died regardless of key-off.

    • 0 avatar

      “I for one would like to know how many of those (dead) people were being idiots behind the wheel”

      You mean like you?

      Detroit-X has some explaining to do.

    • 0 avatar

      In an automotive universe where cars are increasingly dependent on and controlled by complicated electronics, the only failure more catastrophic than a sudden power shutdown would be a sudden steering or brake failure, or a wheel falling off. Blaming the victim in such a case is absurd, and a mean-spirited cheap shot.

      • 0 avatar

        Sudden steering, brake, fuel system and other such failures were much, much more common when cars were purely mechanical.

        Electronics allow for pre-diagnosis, multiple rendundant and sanity-checked inputs, limp-home modes and so forth.

        • 0 avatar

          That’s true up to a point, but those cars didn’t require electricity to keep essential systems running. Even my old ’85 Golf (with non-power assist steering) could have been steered safely to the shoulder if the power had died.

    • 0 avatar

      I was agreeing with Detroit X until the last paragraph…

      Not only was there a failure at GM and Delphi, but also NHTSA…

      Where were the overseers?

      Regardless, I really expect better from GM.

  • avatar

    Did GM put this off so some would have to deal with the Old GM instead of the New GM?

    • 0 avatar

      Like I’ve said before, the overly complicated GM bureaucracy, constant leadership changes in the later part of the decade and the eventual bankruptcy probably caused this issue to fall through the cracks and stuck in some subcommittee.

    • 0 avatar

      At the time, the Old GM was a sinking ship of Titanic proportions, and regardless of where the company was headed (Davy Jone’s Locker), dealing with this obviously deadly malfunction that they definitely knew about, would be pointless soon enough, when all the execs would be working elsewhere, probably with golden arches on their uniform.

  • avatar

    But, but, but, the B&B said there wouldn’t be any investigation…

  • avatar

    Wow, a House panel is going to investigate. Gee, that will surely be illuminating!

    The result is a foregone conclusion – the Republicans will blame it all on Obama. The only question is how badly they’ll torture every principle of logical thought to drive to that conclusion.

  • avatar

    The investigation will create a lot of heat, but no light. To Justice, it’ll be another distraction from all the other scandals, and the House Committee will eventually lay the blame on the Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which will point the finger at GM, which will say it’s “old” GM’s problem. The Flying Fickle Finger Of Fate (FFFOF) will be pointing in all directions, with no resolution whatever, because something else will come along and the books will be closed quietly. We’ve all seen it before, haven’t we?

  • avatar

    GM was owned by the government for much of the time while the Ignition recall was waiting to be announced. The government was calling the shots at GM, controlling the board, firing and hiring CEOs and they are just as liable as GM is for any thing related to this including blame for not making it public earlier AND are a valid target for any potential lawsuits from any injuries or deaths. I’m sure both investigations will just aim to show the government had no knowledge of any of it, but that probably won’t due much good as a shield.

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