The Truth About Cars » lawsuits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 24 Mar 2015 00:49:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » lawsuits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Mary Barra Among Those To Depose Over GM Ignition Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/mary-barra-among-depose-gm-ignition-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/mary-barra-among-depose-gm-ignition-recall/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027465 General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be among those called to depose over the automaker’s February 2014 ignition switch recall by lawyers. The Detroit News reports Barra will join over three dozen former and current GM employees and execs in a months-long deposition process set to start May 6; Barra’s deposition October 8 will be […]

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Mary Barra with Mark Reuss and some laughing rando at the GMC Eminence Front booth during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show

General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be among those called to depose over the automaker’s February 2014 ignition switch recall by lawyers.

The Detroit News reports Barra will join over three dozen former and current GM employees and execs in a months-long deposition process set to start May 6; Barra’s deposition October 8 will be the last one.

The process is linked to a consolidated group of lawsuits led by attorney Robert Hilliard, whose plaintiffs are seeking damages for lost resale value, injury and death as a result of GM’s decade-long delay in recalling the defective ignition switch at the center of the maelstrom.

Related documents that were released as part of a recent settlement with the Melton family — one of the families affected by the recall — lead Hilliard to believe the automaker knew more than it let on; thus, the deposition process about to occur:

Given the damning documents we have uncovered throughout the course of this litigation, the dance floor is very, very small and no GM witness will be able to shuffle around the truth. I expect we will find out how high up this cover-up goes.

Other witnesses include former engineer Ray DeGiorgio, former general counsel Michael Millikin, engineering director David Cary, and senior vice president of global connected customer experience Alicia Boler-Davis, who will be the first to be deposed.

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Lyft Sued For Breach-Of-Contract, Fraud Linked To $1K Bonus Program http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/lyft-sued-breach-contract-fraud-linked-1k-bonus-program/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/lyft-sued-breach-contract-fraud-linked-1k-bonus-program/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 11:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1024225 A 22-page complaint filed against Lyft in federal court says the transportation network company reneged on a $1,000 bonus promised to new drivers. According to Autoblog, the complaint notes that new drivers who joined Lyft on or after February 25, 2015, and complete their first drive on or before March 5 would be paid a […]

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Lyft Driver with new glowstache in Los Angeles

A 22-page complaint filed against Lyft in federal court says the transportation network company reneged on a $1,000 bonus promised to new drivers.

According to Autoblog, the complaint notes that new drivers who joined Lyft on or after February 25, 2015, and complete their first drive on or before March 5 would be paid a $1,000 signing bonus. This prompted thousands of applications from potential drivers in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

However, the TNC emailed the new drivers March 4, stating that some of them would not qualify for the bonus because the required background checks into driving and criminal history might not be completed by the deadline.

Representative Chelsea Wilson said Lyft couldn’t comment on the suit, but did say that thousands of new drivers did receive their bonuses, adding that those who didn’t qualify won’t have their information used unless they still want to have a pink glowing mustache on the dash.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a driver in San Diego and an applicant in Los Angeles, citing breach-of-contract and fraud as the charges. The suit adds that $5 million in bonuses were lost due to the failure in conducting the checks in a prompt manner.

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Newly Revealed Documents Linked To GM Ignition Recall Contradict Valukas Report http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/newly-revealed-documents-linked-gm-ignition-recall-contradict-valukas-report/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/newly-revealed-documents-linked-gm-ignition-recall-contradict-valukas-report/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1023953 Previously confidential documents linked to the General Motors February 2014 ignition recall will give plaintiffs more ammunition for their lawsuits. According to Automotive News, the documents were unveiled after GM settled last week with Ken and Beth Melton for a second time over the death of their daughter Brooke through the compensation fund administered by […]

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Valukas Report

Previously confidential documents linked to the General Motors February 2014 ignition recall will give plaintiffs more ammunition for their lawsuits.

According to Automotive News, the documents were unveiled after GM settled last week with Ken and Beth Melton for a second time over the death of their daughter Brooke through the compensation fund administered by attorney Kenneth Feinberg, per attorneys Lance Cooper and Jere Beasley.

However, those documents — which includes communications between the automaker and its lawyers — contradict the conclusions found in the report published by attorney and independent investigator Anton Valukas, which stated that “incompetence and neglect — not an intentional effort to conceal” the ignition switch problems led to the recall last year after a decade of inaction.

As a result, Cooper and Beasley will begin deposing “all important General Motors witnesses” linked to the recall this May, including all current and former execs and employees.

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A123 Systems Suing Apple, Ex-Employee For Poaching Engineers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/a123-systems-suing-apple-ex-employee-poaching-engineers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/a123-systems-suing-apple-ex-employee-poaching-engineers/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 13:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004514 Apple may or may not be building a car to battle Tesla, but the tech giant is in trouble with A123 Systems for poaching the latter’s employees. Autoblog reports the battery manufacturing is suing Apple in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, seeking a restraining order preliminary injunction against former employee Mujeeb Ijaz, who it believes […]

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A123 Battery Systems HQ

Apple may or may not be building a car to battle Tesla, but the tech giant is in trouble with A123 Systems for poaching the latter’s employees.

Autoblog reports the battery manufacturing is suing Apple in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, seeking a restraining order preliminary injunction against former employee Mujeeb Ijaz, who it believes is hiring away key employees to the tech giant:

It appears that Apple, with the assistance of defendant Ijaz, is systematically hiring away A123’s high tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123.

The suit follows speculation that Apple is entering the automotive space with its own EV, with a roster of former Tesla employees likely working on the project.

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General Motors’ Bankruptcy Protections Could Narrow Pending Ruling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-bankruptcy-protections-narrow-pending-ruling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-bankruptcy-protections-narrow-pending-ruling/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 15:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003706 Should a federal judge decide General Motors acted in the wrong during bankruptcy proceedings, the automaker may see its protections considerably narrowed. According to Reuters, the point of contention is whether or not GM purposely hid the defects linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall during proceedings in 2009. Judge Robert Gerber of the […]

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Should a federal judge decide General Motors acted in the wrong during bankruptcy proceedings, the automaker may see its protections considerably narrowed.

According to Reuters, the point of contention is whether or not GM purposely hid the defects linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall during proceedings in 2009. Judge Robert Gerber of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York said that he would reassess the terms that carved Old GM from New GM if the latter violated due process, allowing affected consumers to go after the automaker for defects it knew of after the exit from bankruptcy.

Gerber’s potential decision won’t sit well with those filing lawsuits over issues of lost value, injury and death as a result of those defects. The plaintiffs are asking for GM to pay compensation in the billions of dollars for its pre-bankruptcy actions, which a modified sale order would mitigate. Gerber is expected to make his decision sometime in the coming weeks at the earliest.

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Toyota Ordered To Pay $11M In Minnesota Unintended Acceleration Suit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/toyota-ordered-pay-11m-minnesota-unintended-acceleration-suit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/toyota-ordered-pay-11m-minnesota-unintended-acceleration-suit/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993954 Nine years after a 1996 Camry with an accelerator defect led to a fatal accident in Minnesota, Toyota was found at fault and ordered to pay $11 million. Reuters reports jurors debated the points of three-week-long trial before finding the automaker 60 percent responsible for the deaths of Javis Trice-Adams Sr. and two children when […]

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1996 Toyota Camry LE

Nine years after a 1996 Camry with an accelerator defect led to a fatal accident in Minnesota, Toyota was found at fault and ordered to pay $11 million.

Reuters reports jurors debated the points of three-week-long trial before finding the automaker 60 percent responsible for the deaths of Javis Trice-Adams Sr. and two children when Koua Fong Lee’s Camry lost its brakes while its accelerator became stuck, striking Trice-Adams Sr.’s Oldsmobile Ciera. Two other passengers were injured in the accident, and Lee spent three years in prison for vehicular manslaughter before being released in 2010 after reports of unintended acceleration involving Toyota products took the spotlight.

Toyota still claims Lee was 100 percent at-fault for the fatal accident, and is considering legal options to pursue. The car itself also wasn’t under the 2009-11 recall of 10 million vehicles made between 2005 and 2010.

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Feinberg: No Offers From GM Comp Fund Have Been Rejected So Far http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/feinberg-no-offers-gm-comp-fund-rejected-far/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/feinberg-no-offers-gm-comp-fund-rejected-far/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 11:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992354 The deadline for filing a claim with General Motors victim compensation fund now passed, Kenneth Feinberg says no offer has been rejected thus far. Bloomberg reports 125 offers have been made between August 1 of last year through last Friday, split between 75 injury and 50 fatality claims linked to the February 2014 GM ignition […]

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cobalt report 12

The deadline for filing a claim with General Motors victim compensation fund now passed, Kenneth Feinberg says no offer has been rejected thus far.

Bloomberg reports 125 offers have been made between August 1 of last year through last Friday, split between 75 injury and 50 fatality claims linked to the February 2014 GM ignition switch recall. According to Feinberg, who is the administrator for the fund, “every single eligible claimant awarded compensation has elected voluntarily to take it… no eligible claimant has rejected the compensation and voluntarily decided to litigate.”

However, he adds that even with his help in mitigating potential lawsuits, the automaker will still have to fend off quite a few; around 150 cases involving owners of over 27 million affected vehicles have been filed in court as of this writing. On the other hand, Feinberg explains that if his office couldn’t find a claim eligible for an offer, “no litigation will do otherwise. Our program is much more generous to claimants than a court would be.”

As of Thursday, over 3,350 claims were filed; the final total is expected to be released later today.

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Portland Sues Uber Over Lack Of Proper Permits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/portland-sues-uber-lack-proper-permits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/portland-sues-uber-lack-proper-permits/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958385 The dream of the Nineties may live on in Portland, Ore., but for Uber, it’s a nightmare that’s just beginning. Bloomberg reports the city government sued the transportation network company just three days after the latter began operations in the Rose City. The complaint, filed in state court in Multnomah County, says Uber is in […]

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Uber Dudebro Travis Kalanicks Stepping Out To Get Beat Down

The dream of the Nineties may live on in Portland, Ore., but for Uber, it’s a nightmare that’s just beginning.

Bloomberg reports the city government sued the transportation network company just three days after the latter began operations in the Rose City. The complaint, filed in state court in Multnomah County, says Uber is in violation of over 20 civil and criminal law provisions because the TNC and its drivers lack the proper permits, and the city seeks to block the company from operating in the city.

Representative Eva Behrend didn’t see the fuss, however:

Uber has received a tremendously warm welcome from riders and drivers in and around Portland. We appreciate the way residents have welcomed Uber into the Rose City, their support illustrates why it’s time to modernize Portland transportation regulation.

Portland joins New Delhi and Rio de Janeiro in putting the hammer down on Uber: the Delhi state government recently banned the TNC after a driver was accused of rape earlier this week, while in Rio, the city’s municipal transportation department filed a complaint with police over the TNC’s lack of taxi service licenses.

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Takata Lost Value Suits On Hold Pending Judicial Panel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/takata-lost-value-suits-hold-pending-judicial-panel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/takata-lost-value-suits-hold-pending-judicial-panel/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957905 Consumers looking to file a lawsuit against Takata over its defective airbags may be waiting a little while longer to do so. Bloomberg reports U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King issued a stay on a proposed class action filed in Miami, where a panel of federal judges will decide after January 29, 2015 whether said […]

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Takata Sign

Consumers looking to file a lawsuit against Takata over its defective airbags may be waiting a little while longer to do so.

Bloomberg reports U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King issued a stay on a proposed class action filed in Miami, where a panel of federal judges will decide after January 29, 2015 whether said case will be combined with over 50 others, and who will be the judge to preside over them.

As for where, the defendants — Honda and the other automakers with ties to Takata — want Pittsburgh, Penn. — where they and two Takata subsidiaries have facilities — as the venue for the multi-district litigation proceedings, while the plaintiffs want Miami, Detroit, New Orleans, Houston or Los Angeles.

The cases against Takata and its clients were filed by consumers seeking damages for lost vehicle value as a result of the plaintiffs’ vehicles being equipped with the supplier’s airbags, which are linked to a number of fatalities and injuries due to catastrophic failure upon deployment. Nine others were filed in order to claim damages related to said fatalities and injuries, some of which could be combined for evidence-gathering prior to the panel.

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Arizona AG Files $3B Lawsuit Against GM Over Ignition Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/arizona-ag-files-3b-lawsuit-gm-ignition-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/arizona-ag-files-3b-lawsuit-gm-ignition-recall/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949089 Going its own way, Arizona has filed a $3 billion lawsuit against General Motors over the February 2014 ignition switch recall. The New York Times reports Arizona attorney general Thomas C. Horne threw down the lawsuit Wednesday, alleging the automaker defrauded the state’s consumers through advertising, public statements and its website. In so doing, Horne […]

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Recalled GM ignition switch

Going its own way, Arizona has filed a $3 billion lawsuit against General Motors over the February 2014 ignition switch recall.

The New York Times reports Arizona attorney general Thomas C. Horne threw down the lawsuit Wednesday, alleging the automaker defrauded the state’s consumers through advertising, public statements and its website. In so doing, Horne and Arizona are going it alone, breaking off from a group of 48 states pursuing a multi-state investigation into the recall; Arizona was on the executive committee of said investigation:

We’re proceeding with our own suit because it’s the best way to protect the citizens of Arizona. General Motors represented that it was taking care of the safety of its cars, and in fact there were serious defects that it did not disclose to the public for years.

The suit also asserts some of GM’s senior execs — including CEO Mary Barra — knew of the defects at the same time as those below their status. Arizona is fining the automaker $10,000 per vehicle found in violation of state statutes, totalling $3 billion for 300,000 units.

For its part, GM vows to fight the suit, proclaiming it “misrepresents the facts” behind the performance of its vehicles, as well as its commitment to the safety of its customer base.

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FCA CEO Ordered To Give Deposition In Jeep-Related Lawsuit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/fca-ceo-ordered-give-deposition-jeep-related-lawsuit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/fca-ceo-ordered-give-deposition-jeep-related-lawsuit/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946210 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has been ordered by a Georgia judge to give a deposition as part of a lawsuit made against his company by a family whose son was killed in a rear-end crash involving a Jeep. Bloomberg reports the Walden family is suing FCA, stating the fiery accident that took the […]

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sergio-marchionne

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has been ordered by a Georgia judge to give a deposition as part of a lawsuit made against his company by a family whose son was killed in a rear-end crash involving a Jeep.

Bloomberg reports the Walden family is suing FCA, stating the fiery accident that took the life of their four-year-old son, Remington Cole, was the result of a safety hazard involving the placement of the fuel tank in their 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The judge asked the automaker to make its CEO available for a videotape deposition at a time agreed upon by both involved parties, per a decision on the case made last month.

FCA’s Chrysler Group stated said Jeep wasn’t defective, and that it met or exceeded safety standards that were in place when the vehicle left the assembly line. The automaker did offer its sympathy to the family, however:

Chrysler Group expresses its most profound sympathy to those affected by this tragedy, which resulted from a collision with a pickup truck driven in a manner police described as “erratic, reckless, careless (and) negligent.”

The statement follows a similar response made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in June 2013, when the agency requested the automaker recall 2.7 million Grand Cherokees and Libertys over the vehicles’ fuel tanks, which posed a fire risk due to their location between the rear bumper and axle. FCA later applied a fix for 1.56 million affected units — the installation or repair of a trailer hitch to help minimize the effects of a low-speed crash — but not for the 1999 Grand Cherokee like the one cited in the lawsuit.

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First GM Ignition Lawsuit Trial Set For January 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/first-gm-ignition-lawsuit-trial-set-january-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/first-gm-ignition-lawsuit-trial-set-january-2016/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=942425 It’s official: the first bellwether trial involving a lawsuit against General Motors over its role in the February 2014 ignition switch recall is set for January 2016. Reuters reports the first trial, to be selected by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in the Southern District of New York in the near future, will focus on […]

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thurgood-marshall-courthouse

It’s official: the first bellwether trial involving a lawsuit against General Motors over its role in the February 2014 ignition switch recall is set for January 2016.

Reuters reports the first trial, to be selected by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in the Southern District of New York in the near future, will focus on personal injury or wrongful death. The case will be chosen from a pool of 130 suits, with claims linked to personal injury, wrongful death and lost vehicle value.

The trial, which could be the first of many bellwether trials to come, could help both sides in determining a given case’s strengths and weaknesses. No decisions made in each case will be binding to the overall pool.

The case was originally scheduled for October 2015, but GM wanted a date for June 2016, citing time constraints to prepare its case were the original proposal accepted. The vehicle in question for the first trial will be addressed when the case is selected by Furman.

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Treasury: GM Bailout Suit Would Hinder Future Actions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/treasury-gm-bailout-suit-hinder-future-actions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/treasury-gm-bailout-suit-hinder-future-actions/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938857 Should companies in the future need to be bailed-out by the federal government, they may not be so forthcoming with the necessary information if General Motors’ confidential documents linked to its own bailout see the light of day. Bloomberg reports the U.S. Treasury is doing all it can to protect the information submitted by GM […]

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Seal_on_United_States_Department_of_the_Treasury_on_the_Building

Should companies in the future need to be bailed-out by the federal government, they may not be so forthcoming with the necessary information if General Motors’ confidential documents linked to its own bailout see the light of day.

Bloomberg reports the U.S. Treasury is doing all it can to protect the information submitted by GM prior to investing $49.5 billion into the automaker during the early days of the Great Recession:

Disclosure of the disputed information would also impair Treasury’s ability to obtain necessary information from companies in the future. [The] Treasury’s ability to act as a lender would be hampered.

The information is at the heart of a lawsuit filed by the Center for Auto Safety in 2011. Over 50,000 records were obtained thus far, but the advocacy group wants information on how much of a role the Treasury played in preventing pre-bankruptcy claims made against GM over vehicles linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall from moving forward.

Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Auto Safety, disputed the idea that future companies in need of help would be dissuaded from “begging for billion in taxpayer dollars” were the desired documents revealed.

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NYC Taxi Association Take Taxi Of Tomorrow Fight To Albany http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nyc-taxi-association-take-taxi-tomorrow-fight-albany/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nyc-taxi-association-take-taxi-tomorrow-fight-albany/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935650 Clutching dearly onto their fleet of Panthers, New York’s taxi industry is heading up to Albany to contest the $1 billion plan to replace their vehicles with Nissan’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” NV200. Bloomberg reports the Greater New York Taxi Association will contest the appellate court ruling made this summer that declared the program — meant […]

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Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow

Clutching dearly onto their fleet of Panthers, New York’s taxi industry is heading up to Albany to contest the $1 billion plan to replace their vehicles with Nissan’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” NV200.

Bloomberg reports the Greater New York Taxi Association will contest the appellate court ruling made this summer that declared the program — meant to bring 15,000 of the new taxis to the streets of Manhattan over the next 10 years — was flawed from the start:

The Taxi of Tomorrow as planned forces owners to purchase a single foreign-made vehicle, which is neither fuel-efficient nor wheelchair accessible.

The lawsuit process began in 2012, after the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission chose the NV200 as its new champion, and mandated all medallion owners to buy the vans to replace their Ford Crown Victorias at $29,700 a pop. The plan was blocked twice prior to the June 2014 ruling in favor, once for the lack of hybrid models, and again for overreach by the commission.

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US District Court Orders Discovery For Some GM Ignition Switch Suits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/us-district-court-orders-discovery-gm-ignition-switch-suits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/us-district-court-orders-discovery-gm-ignition-switch-suits/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916226 Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman issued from his bench in the Southern District of New York an order for discovery to begin on a number of cases related to the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall. Reuters reports the order covers suits not tied to an ongoing case regarding GM’s battle to […]

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A recalled Chevy Cobalt ignition switch is seen at Raymond Chevrolet in Antioch

Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman issued from his bench in the Southern District of New York an order for discovery to begin on a number of cases related to the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall.

Reuters reports the order covers suits not tied to an ongoing case regarding GM’s battle to maintain its liability shield as erected in bankruptcy court back in 2009. Furman added that discovery should only focus on requests made to the automaker for supporting documents on a “reasonable, but aggressive schedule,” with depositions to be obtained at a later date.

The order comes as 131 fatality claims were filed thus far with the compensation fund established by GM, and maintained by attorney Kenneth Feinberg and his team of experts. The fund also identified a total of 19 fatalities linked to the ignition switch found in 2.6 million Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn compact vehicles, up from the automaker’s original count of 13.

Meanwhile, the bankruptcy protection case won’t have a verdict until sometime in 2015. The automaker’s lawyers had requested discovery be delayed until after the case was resolved.

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Barra Returns To Face Congress Post-Valukas Report http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-returns-to-face-congress-post-valukas-report/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-returns-to-face-congress-post-valukas-report/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 10:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=846857 In today’s digest: General Motors CEO Mary Barra returns to the Beltway with Anton Valukas in tow; GM is hit with a $10 billion lawsuit; affected families appear before Barra’s testimony; and a safety group calls the Valukas report “flawed.” Automotive News reports Barra made good on her promise to return to Capitol Hill for […]

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Barra and Valukas are sworn in before House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill

In today’s digest: General Motors CEO Mary Barra returns to the Beltway with Anton Valukas in tow; GM is hit with a $10 billion lawsuit; affected families appear before Barra’s testimony; and a safety group calls the Valukas report “flawed.”

Automotive News reports Barra made good on her promise to return to Capitol Hill for a second round of Congressional hearings over the February 2014 ignition switch recall that has upended the automaker for the time being. During Wednesday’s hearing before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, she proclaimed any unexpected vehicle shutdown to now be considered a safety concern by the automaker, instead of waiting until a clear link surfaced on its own prior to action. The hearing also revealed just how much more work awaits GM in overhauling its corporate culture for the better of all, recounting a report made by an employee in 2005 about ignition switch issues in the 2006 Chevrolet Impala similar to those in the Cobalt. However, it would take until this week for a “big recall” of the mid-size sedan over the issue to occur due to the company’s widespread safety deficiencies.

Later in the hearing, former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas, hired by GM to conduct an independent internal investigation into the recall, took questions about his report. Valukas stated that while he had unfettered access to the automaker, getting through to supplier Delphi and trial lawyers leading cases against GM was easier said than done. Barra then had words about Ray DeGiorgio, the former GM engineer named repeatedly in the Valukas report for his approval of the original switch and its undocumented redesign. In short, she didn’t find DeGiorgio “credible” regarding his statements to Valukas’ team of investigators.

Finally, Barra addressed the issue of compensation for the families affected by the original recall, stating victim-compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg would have total control of the fund, and that GM will have no cap on compensation:

We want to capture every single person who suffered serious injury or lost a loved one — every single one. If the ignition switch was part of the issue, we want them in the program. We want to get everybody that’s affected.

Reuters reports GM is now under the gun of a $10 billion lawsuit filed by Hagens Berman Sobal Shapiro in federal court in Riverside, Calif. on behalf of Anna Andrews. The lawsuit calls for compensation due to lost resale value for those who owned or leased a GM vehicle between July 10, 2009 and April 1, 2014; Andrews herself claimed she would have not purchased her used 2010 Buick LaCrosse — or would have opted for a lower price — “had GM done a better job of disclosing vehicle defects.” Should all come to pass, some 15 million GM customers would receive damages whether their vehicles were recalled or not.

Detroit Free Press says the families affected by the defective switch at the heart of the February 2014 recall made an appearance alongside U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut prior to Wednesday’s hearing to help others who may have been harmed by products not under recall, and to call for quicker issuing of recalls of flawed vehicles. The families shared stories of how GM’s negligence destroyed the lives of not only those behind the wheel of the vehicles with the defect, but their lives as well. Blumenthal added that “the victims who settled should be given the opportunity to recontest their claims.”

Finally, Center for Auto Safety director Clarence Ditlow penned a letter to Valukas, stating the attorney had accepted the automaker’s defense “that its engineers and senior managers did not know” stalling in vehicles was a major safety issue, to the detriment of his report. He added that the Valukas report had omitted or missed evidence “in constructing what amounts to a corporate defense against criminal charges… that show GM at its highest levels of management considers stalling to be a safety defect.” The report said officials did not consider stalling issues in the Cobalt or Saturn Ion as a hazard until the issue was linked to the failed deployment of air bags due to a loss of power prior to an accident.

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Nine States Investigate GM Ignition Switch Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nine-states-investigate-gm-ignition-switch-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nine-states-investigate-gm-ignition-switch-recall/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 11:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=843409 In today’s General Motors digest: Nine states are investigating the handling of the automaker’s ignition switch recall; compensation will only focus on those injured or killed; a Georgia injury claim’s transfer to New York a sign of things to come for similar claims; and a federal official saw GM’s corporate culture at work during bankruptcy […]

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Rencen. Picture courtesy GM

In today’s General Motors digest: Nine states are investigating the handling of the automaker’s ignition switch recall; compensation will only focus on those injured or killed; a Georgia injury claim’s transfer to New York a sign of things to come for similar claims; and a federal official saw GM’s corporate culture at work during bankruptcy proceedings, yet remained silent.

Bloomberg reports attorneys general in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana and Utah are all leading investigations into the February 2014 GM ignition switch recall in an effort address concerns among their constituents over their affected vehicles. Unlike the federal prosecutors in New York — who are conducting their own investigation into the recall — the attorneys general are able to make decisions faster, former Maine Attorney General Jim Tierney citing individuality as the key to quick decisions. As for potential fraud and negligence allegations, Tierney expects those questions will be answered “down the road,” the main focus of the AGs being to let GM know “they’re on the case and they’re paying attention.”

Within GM, The Detroit News says on the same day CEO Mary Barra announced she and independent investigator Anton Valukas would be heading up to Capitol Hill for a promised return to Congress, victim-compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg clarified that the fund he is designing for GM will only pay those affected by injury or death as a result of the recalled out-of-spec ignition switch found in 2.6 million vehicles; the switch is currently linked to 13 fatalities and 54 accidents. Though he has yet to determine the specifics on those to be compensated, Feinberg “will not include economic loss claims for e.g. ‘perceived diminished value.'” Those who are suing for such claims — over 70 plaintiffs — will instead meet before U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in New York, where the automaker hopes the liability shield established upon exit from bankruptcy in 2009 will prevent those cases from moving further.

Speaking of New York, Bloomberg adds the injury lawsuit filed by Georgia attorney Lance Cooper and Alabama lawyer Jere Beasley on behalf of the family of Brooke Melton — who originally settled with GM last September prior to the recall — will likely join the economic value-related suits in New York instead of being considered for compensation. GM representative Kevin Kelly stated that any injury claim, no matter the timing, “would be subject to [Kenneth] Feinberg and the protocol he outlines,” though the automaker’s decision regarding the Melton case is, as far as it’s concerned, already settled. The Melton family is suing for damages beyond the federal minimum of $75,000, including “the full value” of their daughter’s life and funeral costs.

Finally, Automotive News reports a New York Times op-ed penned by Steven Rattner, who led the federal financial bailout of GM and Chrysler, recounted the first-hand knowledge of GM’s corporate culture at work in 2009. Rattner’s experience with the culture was as follows:

Looking under the hood of GM was the most stunningly disappointing dissection of a paid-up member of corporate America in my 30-year Wall Street career.

However, while he believed then-CEO Rick Wagoner left a lot to be desired on the corporate responsibility front — in comparison with Ford CEO Alan Mullaly — Rattner did not believe the overall senior management was at-fault for the ignition switch whose problems were years away from exploding into the spotlight.

Two safety advocates took issue with the op-ed: Care for Crash Victims auto safety research Louis Lombardo questioned Rattner’s decision to report on the culture, yet not investigate further into GM or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration beyond the bottom line; and former agency head Joan Claybrook stated his account as lacking clarity, “encouraging [GM] to have a wink, a nod and a salute” over liability concerns.

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Feinberg: A Modest Window To File Recall-Related Claims http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/feinberg-a-modest-window-to-file-recall-related-claims/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/feinberg-a-modest-window-to-file-recall-related-claims/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842962 Bloomberg reports the compensation fund designed by attorney Kenneth Feinberg for General Motors will have “a relatively modest timetable to invite claimants to file their claims” once the claim period begins August 1. Feinberg also said by the end of June, he and his team will have a program “that will define who’s eligible to […]

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File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit

Bloomberg reports the compensation fund designed by attorney Kenneth Feinberg for General Motors will have “a relatively modest timetable to invite claimants to file their claims” once the claim period begins August 1. Feinberg also said by the end of June, he and his team will have a program “that will define who’s eligible to file a claim… what the dollars will look like for those who file,” as well as the obligations the plaintiffs will need to have “to prove their claim.” GM CEO Mary Barra added that her company won’t know the final cost of the fund “until the actual compensation has been run,” though an estimate may come at the end of Q2 2014.

On the other end of the scale, The Detroit News reports the automaker has come into full compliance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the agency’s request for documentation about the recall, bringing an end to the $7,000/day fine put in place for non-compliance. The total penalty paid to the NHTSA will come to $420,000 from the time the clock began on April 4 — after the automaker failed to answer in full by the previous day the 107-question survey to sort out the recall’s handling — through June 5, the day the Valukas Report was published and distributed to all concerned parties. The fine is in addition to the $35 million maximum fine levied upon GM for the decade-plus delay prior to recalling the out-of-spec ignition switch at the heart of the matter, and is due by July 4; the $35 million fine is due this Friday.

Meanwhile, Georgia lawyers Lance Cooper and Jere Beasley claimed in a statement that GM is attempting to move the nearly reopened wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of Brooke Melton to bankruptcy court in New York in an effort to use the liability shield established in the automaker’s exit from bankruptcy in 2009 to deflect the new claim. Melton’s family had accepted a settlement in September 2013 under allegations her 2010 fatal accident behind the wheel of a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt was the result of the defective switch on-board, one of 13 total fatalities so linked thus far. Alleging GM hid evidence in bankruptcy, Cooper and Beasley filed a lawsuit last month to reopen the case and set aside the settlement.

Finally, Autoblog reports GM has filed a trademark claim with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to reserve the name Zora for “motor land vehicles, namely, automobiles.” The name is part of the automaker’s heritage, as Zora Arkus-Duntov helped take the Chevrolet Corvette from a low-powered roadster with European flair, to a fire-breathing beast on the track and in the showroom through the car’s first two generations. The publication speculates the name could be used on a special edition Corvette somewhere down the road, especially if linked to a Grand Sport model; Arkus-Duntov led the Grand Sport program that established the Corvette as a racing legend during the C2 era.

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US Judicial Panel Consolidates Lawsuits, Sends Them To NY http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/us-judicial-panel-consolidates-lawsuits-sends-them-to-ny/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/us-judicial-panel-consolidates-lawsuits-sends-them-to-ny/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=841578 Reuters reports the lawsuits filed against General Motors over its decade-plus handling of the ignition switched linked to 13 fatalities and 54 accidents will all be reviewed by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in the Southern District of New York, as ruled Monday by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The panel determined New […]

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RenCen1

Reuters reports the lawsuits filed against General Motors over its decade-plus handling of the ignition switched linked to 13 fatalities and 54 accidents will all be reviewed by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in the Southern District of New York, as ruled Monday by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The panel determined New York to be the appropriate venue for the hearings based upon the court’s handling of the 2009 bankruptcy that allowed the automaker to shed its former self, liabilities and all. The lawsuits to be heard by the bankruptcy judge involve economic damages, suits GM wants the judge to determine if they are blocked by the liability protections established upon its exit from bankruptcy.

KARE-TV reports one of the families affected by the recall expressed their outrage at the automaker’s decision to include their daughter’s friend among the 13 who lost their lives, but not their daughter, who died with her friend. Ken and Jayne Rimer believe their daughter, Natasha Weigel, had been sitting in the back of the Chevrolet Cobalt behind her friend Amy Rademaker, had not been counted because Weigel was not in front of an airbag when the vehicle smashed through several trees in 2006. The Rimers also doubted CEO Mary Barra’s sincerity when they spoke to her about Natasha, Jayne claiming Barra’s tears to be “staged.” The family is demanding to know why Weigel was left out of the fatality count, but did not state how they would go about obtaining said information.

In Detroit, Automotive News reports other families affected by the recall are planning to protest outside of the annual GM shareholders meeting Tuesday. Monday, protesters gathered at the Renaissance Center to let their voice be heard by all who would hear, including the live cameras of CNBC. Around 20 are expected to protest the shareholders meeting beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, three more names were revealed from the list of 15 who were fired by GM last week after the Valukas report was published:

  • Jaclyn Palmer: Attorney
  • Ronald Porter: Attorney
  • Maureen Foley-Gardner: Director of field performance evaluation

A total of 11 names have been revealed as of this writing, including former GM engineer Ray DeGiorgio, which said report laid the majority of the blame for the ignition switch upon. The 325-page report mentions DeGiorgio by name 207 times, including in the opening sentence of the report itself. Attorney Anton Valukas, hired by GM to conduct the investigation that bears his name, says of the former engineer:

He actually changed the ignition switch to solve the problem in later model years of the Cobalt, but failed to document it, told no one, and claimed to remember nothing about the change.

Valukas added DeGiorgio’s decision to solve the problem but not to document the change was “deliberate” and “an act that violated GM’s policies and which would throw GM investigators off the track for years.”

Finally, The Detroit News reports the GM Board of Directors are well aware of the recall issues, but are not happy with the associated headache. Chair Tim Solso says he and his board members have faith in Barra and her executive team, but is looking to push forward with improving the corporate culture at the root of the recall with “high-performance teams and quality leadership… in the right jobs… aligned around guiding principles, vision, values and strategy.” Solso adds the crisis has brought the leadership together, with GM becoming more transparent and focused on its customer base.

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Feinberg: Report On GM Victims Compensation “Weeks Away” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/feinberg-report-on-gm-victims-compensation-weeks-away/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/feinberg-report-on-gm-victims-compensation-weeks-away/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=836746 The Detroit News reports Kenneth Feinberg, whose services were retained by General Motors regarding compensation for victims of the out-of-spec ignition switch linked to 47 accidents and at least 13 fatalities, stated an announcement regarding compensation is “a few weeks away.” Feinberg adds that while his client may be making its own statement on the […]

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Kenneth Feinberg

The Detroit News reports Kenneth Feinberg, whose services were retained by General Motors regarding compensation for victims of the out-of-spec ignition switch linked to 47 accidents and at least 13 fatalities, stated an announcement regarding compensation is “a few weeks away.” Feinberg adds that while his client may be making its own statement on the matter, “it will not include any details about a compensation plan since no such plan yet exists.” The attorney has worked on similar programs in the past, including those affected by the 2011 BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster, Agent Orange, asbestos and the attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. in early September of 2001.

The Detroit Free Presswho has a comprehensive timeline of surrounding the issues that has placed GM under the spotlightcombed through an organization chart and other findings obtained from the Associated Press to illustrate how a small problem became the ongoing headache currently experienced by the automaker. Of note, until earlier this year, safety came in fourth to finance, sales and PR, reflecting CEO Mary Barra’s statement before Congress in April that GM’s corporate culture valued cost savings over the safety of its consumer base. The corporate structure could come under more fire once independent investigator Anton Valukas presents his findings to Barra this week, with a potential recommendation to tear down the “communication silos” so that future issues — and the ability to act upon them — are allowed faster access to the top.

Over in the Beltway, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is facing its own time under the spotlight for its part in handling the February 2014 GM ignition switch recall. Though consumer advocacy groups and the federal government have suggested ways to help the agency better do its job — from boosting its maximum fine to $300 million from $35 million, to increasing manpower and oversight over the automotive industry — the main sticking point is the NHTSA’s reliance on self-reporting of recalls et al by the automakers, which is partly the result of the former’s focus on driver safety over safety defects. The self-reporting protocol broke down between both GM and the agency, leading to the recall parade being led by the former, and future improvements of the reporting process and beyond for the latter.

Finally, Automotive News reports Nettleton Auto Sales Inc., a used car dealership in Jonesboro, Ark., is suing GM for being stuck with inventory it cannot sell because said inventory contains “highly dangerous vehicles” that may or may not be affected by the main February 2014 recall. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock over a week ago and disclosed by GM in bankruptcy court this week, says the automaker “actively” concealed the out-of-spec part until this year. The vehicles named in the suit total three thus far — all Chevrolet HHRs — with additional vehicles to be named later.

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Akerson Claims No Knowledge Of Ignition Switch Issues During GM Tenure http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/akerson-claims-no-knowledge-of-ignition-switch-issues-during-gm-tenure/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/akerson-claims-no-knowledge-of-ignition-switch-issues-during-gm-tenure/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=835585 Last week, the B&B learned from former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson that current CEO Mary Barra did not know about the ignition switch that has since given his old company a months-long headache. The B&B then asked if Akerson himself knew of the problem on his way to be at his wife’s side and […]

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GM-CEO-Dan-Akerson-at-New-York-Stock-Exchange

Last week, the B&B learned from former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson that current CEO Mary Barra did not know about the ignition switch that has since given his old company a months-long headache. The B&B then asked if Akerson himself knew of the problem on his way to be at his wife’s side and that of his colleagues at The Carlyle Group.

Automotive News reports the answer is “No.” In a post on Forbes magazine’s blog, both he and GM chair Tim Solso claim they didn’t know about the ignition switch issues at the heart of the February 2014 recall of 2.6 million vehicles. Akerson stated that if he had known about the problem, Barra would have been made aware as he handed the reins of the automaker to her in late December 2013. Solso says he didn’t become aware until after Barra called him to let him know the bad news, having become a non-voting member of the board in the following January.

On the judicial front, Bloomberg says GM wants the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to handle every lawsuit related to the ignition switch recall, citing that the federal judge in Manhattan would be able to confer with U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber — who handled the 2009 bankruptcy that separated the automaker from its old assets — throughout the litigation process. The request, made before the seven-member U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Chicago, was met with resistance by the 14 lawyers also in attendance. The group protested the idea that proximity to GM’s favored bankruptcy judge would be a benefit to their clients, with Rudy Gonzales of Corpus Christi, Texas firm Hilliard Munoz Gonzales LLP suggesting the district court in Texas would be the better venue.

Within the Beltway, GM asked another federal judge to keep confidential information related to its bankruptcy out of the hands of the Center for Auto Safety, who sued the U.S. Treasury in 2011 under the Freedom of Information Act for the records detailing where and how everything went wrong in the handling of the out-of-spec ignition switch. The automaker claims that it has a right to protect its “interests in its own business information” that it says goes above and beyond what it thinks the consumer-advocacy group has a right to request from it and the Treasury.

Finally, Automotive News reports Anton Valukas, the former U.S. attorney hired by GM to independently investigate the recall, has given his findings to the automaker for presentation this week. Barra reportedly informed Congress in April that she gave Valukas “free rein” to hunt down what he needed without roadblocks in the way. As a result, a number of questions regarding information suppression, collusion, and who knew what and when during the decade-plus period surrounding the switch will likely be answered in the lead-up to victim compensation, which is headed by attorney Kenneth Feinberg. The report itself could be in the size and scope of his report on the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, which came in at 2,200 pages.

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Endless GM Recall Parade Sign Of Industry-Wide Action To Come http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/endless-gm-recall-parade-sign-of-industry-wide-action-to-come/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/endless-gm-recall-parade-sign-of-industry-wide-action-to-come/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=828562 Detroit Free Press posits the endless recall parade General Motors has been leading since late February 2014 may be doing more harm than good for public perception or its bottom line. Though spokesman Greg Martin claimed the recalls were an effort to make his employer “a first-class safety organization” by focusing hard upon the consumer, […]

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GM RenCen Storm Clouds

Detroit Free Press posits the endless recall parade General Motors has been leading since late February 2014 may be doing more harm than good for public perception or its bottom line. Though spokesman Greg Martin claimed the recalls were an effort to make his employer “a first-class safety organization” by focusing hard upon the consumer, a survey by AutoTrader found 51 percent of auto consumers were less confident in the industry’s overall safety record as a result of the actions by GM, up from 44 percent who thought the same five days’ earlier. In addition, the automaker will take a $400 million charge in Q2 2014 for the recalls since April 1 as of this writing, while its current stock price of $33.07 per share is a few cents above its IPO price from November 2010.

Autoblog continues on this thread, proclaiming what GM is doing is the beginning of an industry-wide shift toward issuing full recalls for any flaw in a given product, all under heightened scrutiny from the public and government regulators. For the first months of this year alone, all automakers have recalled a total of 22.4 million vehicles, the bulk of which belong to GM. Kelly Blue Book analyst Akshay Anand says the parade is a double-edge sword, particularly for the General; while such recalls are a sign automakers are being proactive in ensuring their products are as safe as they can be, consumers may perceive the effort as a sign automakers are failing to do their job well in the first place.

Automotive News follows with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, who stated in a panel discussion at the Brookings Institute this week what else might occur when the GM-led parade becomes a permanent fixture in the industry:

If effectively this frequency of recalls becomes a norm, if everybody starts doing this, then I think you will see this cost being shifted to the consumer. It will transfer itself over onto the selling price of the vehicle.

Marchionne adds automakers, in turn, will act more sensibly in handling potential defects in product, noting punitive actions — such as paying $35 million in fines to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — will have little in the way of such handling when reputation is the bigger issue for the industry as a whole.

Speaking of the main parade itself, Autoblog reports 218,000 2004 through 2008 Chevrolet Aveos have been recalled due to the daytime running light module in the instrument panel possibly overheating, melting and setting the vehicle ablaze. According to spokesman Alan Adler, the automaker is “aware of some fires” so far, and is working on a fix for the module. Adler adds that while he doesn’t know when the fix will come, GM will send a second notice to owners when the time comes to schedule repair work.

Detroit Free Press concludes by explaining why GM continues to issue recalls as it combs through its records to avoid another decade-long delay in taking such action:

  • The government has ordered the automaker to meet with the NHTSA monthly on investigations and recalls as part of the former’s $35 million settlement with the latter
  • GM CEO Mary Barra’s appointment of Jeff Boyer to global quality chief — with the mandate to report directly to her if necessary — means anything deemed dangerous or otherwise unknown, including previously unreported defects — are up for attention
  • The automaker’s investors prefer to get the bad news out of the way and accept whatever potential pain awaits in as few quarters as possible, even if no one is happy about swallowing such medicine in the first place

The Freep also provided a list of every recall from January through this week, minus the latest recall issued Wednesday; total recall to date is 18,666,842.

GM

On the sales front, Automotive News reports dealers won’t be able to sell any of the 2009 through 2014 Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia crossovers thanks to a stop-sale order issued in a recall involving the front seat belt cable in the vehicles. The order comes during one of the biggest sales weekends of the year, putting a damper on potential Memorial Day promotions. Though dealers could still close on sales without actually allowing the vehicle to leave the lot, no test drives can be carried out in affected demonstrators, making such sales more difficult. GM is offering an end-of-month incentive to maintain May sales momentum, but that may not be enough to offset the extra floorplanning costs if few vehicles can be sold until the affected units are repaired.

Back in the Beltway, Barra met with U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri and other members of Congress to discuss recent findings in the February 2014 ignition switch recall. Though spokesman Greg Martin confirmed the meetings did take place, he did not give details on all that was said between Congress and the CEO.

Meanwhile, members of the Obama administration who helped assemble the rescue packages for both Chrysler and GM said they knew nothing about the out-of-spec switch at the heart of the recall maelstrom when said packages were crafted between them and the automaker’s senior execs. One member, Harry Wilson, stated that even if the task force asked GM point-blank about the switch, he doubted they would ever get a straight answer. Lead adviser Steven Rattner added that as far as he knew, the execs before him then didn’t know about the problem; therefore, neither could his task force.

Over in Texas, Bloomberg both GM and supplier Delphi have asked the Texas Supreme Court to combine four suits linked to the switch into one state case. The claim is fighting each one separately would cost the duo time and money, while combining the four and rolling subsequent cases going forward into a single case would “eliminate duplicative discovery, void conflicting pretrial rulings, conserve judicial resources, be more convenient for the parties and witnesses and otherwise promote a more just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” The cases mention involve wrongful injury and death.

With GM’s cadre of lawyers coming under the gun now, Detroit Free Press reports the automaker’s general counsel Michael Millikin has named attorney Lucy Clark Doughtery to advise Boyer and product development chief Mark Reuss. Millikin is also working with independent lawyer Anton Valukas on the internal investigation into why GM handled the recall the way it had. The general counsel’s own future with the company has been called into question, though GM claims Millikin has no “current plans to retire” at this time.

In financial news, Automotive News says GM Financial is preparing to go under its own test of scrutiny of loans originated by its dealership network in an effort to avoid punitive action by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau based on allegations of discrimination in lending rates among minority consumers. The lender’s chief compliance officer, Dan Bickmore, says his role is to help reorganize the company into compliance with the CFPB, going as far as to establish a new compliance department and boosting the lender’s complaint management process and fair lending areas. He also aims to help educate dealerships on appropriate lending policies to prevent discrimination of protected classes when drafting a loan or lease contract.

On the design front, global design chief Ed Welburn says that with GM’s line of vehicles sharing the same technology and functionality with each other, styling will be needed to help differentiate each unit. He goes on to say the automaker has committed a few design sins in the past, favoring functionality over style and charm, as well as decontenting interiors when a product was overbudget. Welburn concludes that the new guard leading GM “really cares about interiors now, and it shows,” such as the interiors in the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette and Cadillac ELR.

Finally, The Detroit News says the 2015 GMC Sierra All Terrain HD will go on sale this summer. The pickup will be available in 2500 and 3500 weight classes with double and crew cab options, with trim lines to include SLE, SLT and Z71. Power is expected to come from a standard 6-liter gasoline engine, with a twin-turbo Duramax diesel on the options list.

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GM Ready To Introduce Seat-Belt Interlock System In Select 2015 Models http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-ready-to-introduce-seat-belt-interlock-system-in-select-2015-models/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-ready-to-introduce-seat-belt-interlock-system-in-select-2015-models/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 10:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=827522 Automotive News reports General Motors is preparing to launch a belt assurance system in a number of MY 2015 vehicles later this year, including the GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Cruze, Colorado and Silverado. The system prevents the vehicle from shifting out of park until both driver and front passenger are buckled, using weight information gathered from […]

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GM and OnStar Aim to Help Buckle Up America

Automotive News reports General Motors is preparing to launch a belt assurance system in a number of MY 2015 vehicles later this year, including the GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Cruze, Colorado and Silverado. The system prevents the vehicle from shifting out of park until both driver and front passenger are buckled, using weight information gathered from the sensing and diagnostic module to lock the brakes and transmission until compliance is achieved. The system is currently optional, and will be provided free of charge for those who are willing to become beta testers for GM’s latest technological offering.

The Detroit News reports the company is facing down 79 lawsuits linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall, with plaintiffs asking for as much as $10 billion in lost resale value. Some of the lawsuits are aimed at tying “New GM” to “Old GM” by dissolving the liability protections established in July 2009 when the automaker exited bankruptcy, leaving behind responsibility for accidents linked to the out-of-spec switch that occurred before “New GM” emerged. Supplier Delphi is also named as defendant in a number of the suits for their part in manufacturing the switch. All of the lawsuits are currently on hold by federal judges in California and Texas pending ruling on which of the claims will be allowable.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the February recall may upend the U.S. automotive industry as a whole, especially in its relationship with the federal government. GM’s credibility, already perceived as lacking among the public, isn’t being helped with the hiring of “Old GM” executives, the retirement of engineers with ties to the switch, or the status quo maintained in the automaker’s legal department. As the spotlight shines brighter on GM’s problems, it will likely face the same sledgehammer used by the U.S. Justice Department when the latter levied a $1.2 billion settlement upon Toyota for its own recall issues. In turn, more recalls, cautious product development and reduced profits will be experienced by all automakers, while consumers may see satisfaction from the heightened scrutiny.

Finally, Edmunds says GM and Google are partnering for ride-share pilot program at the latter’s Mountain View, Calif. campus, featuring the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV as the vehicle of choice. The EV was chosen thanks to its “small footprint” along with its ability to seat four while cornering past the ARCO and connecting with the Google mothership. GM says the program will combine “commuting data, analytics, telematics, navigation and smartphones to run a smart, real-time system that mixes and matches drivers, riders and cars during morning and evening commutes,” with convenient door-to-door service and flex-scheduling the main goals expected.

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Former GM PR Exec Steve Harris Returns Under Ignition Recall Fallout http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/former-gm-pr-exec-steve-harris-returns-under-ignition-recall-fallout/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/former-gm-pr-exec-steve-harris-returns-under-ignition-recall-fallout/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 10:20:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=818458 (Note: header image changed based on whim of E-I-C pro tem, some will understand why — JB) Detroit Free Press reports former General Motors vice president of communications Steve Harris has been called out of retirement to help guide his former employer through the fallout of the February 2014 ignition recall crisis “for a limited […]

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harris

(Note: header image changed based on whim of E-I-C pro tem, some will understand why — JB)

Detroit Free Press reports former General Motors vice president of communications Steve Harris has been called out of retirement to help guide his former employer through the fallout of the February 2014 ignition recall crisis “for a limited time.” According to spokesman Greg Martin, Harris’ “deep background with GM and proven experience” will be of great benefit to the company. His second return the company — the first in 2006 at the request of then-CEO Rick Wagoner after leaving in 2003 — comes on the heels of successor Selim Bingol’s resignation in April of this year.

Regarding the switch itself, Autoblog reports testing of the recommended temporary fix — using the key with nothing attached — conducted by both the automaker and the U.S. Department of Transportation have shown the cars can be driven safely as-is. In addition, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx responded to the call by Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut to order GM to pull the 2.6 million affected vehicles off the road until they are repaired, stating that “such an action is not necessary at this time,” and that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “is satisfied” with the temporary solution proposed by GM.

In lawsuit news, Automotive News reports the automaker is seeking shelter from a group of customers seeking information on its handling of the ongoing recall in a federal court in Texas. The judge reviewing the 60 suits against the company has stated he would consider such requests from the plaintiffs while deciding if their demands are lawful, while GM says such evidence should be “scheduled in a coordinated fashion” after consolidation of all suits pending.

Finally, GM, its dealers, and its customer base may have to traverse a long, hard road out of hell before everything settles down around the main recall and subsequent recalls that have come over the past few months. Detroit Free Press says the automaker will need 9 million parts from its suppliers — from new ignitions to power steering motors — and several months to repair all affected vehicles dropped off at its 4,300-strong dealership network. The wait alone for parts to arrive may take as much as four weeks to arrive for some dealers, as Delphi and other suppliers are ramping up production to meet demand.

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GM Issues ECM Recall, Bids Farewell To Federico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-issues-ecm-recall-bids-farewell-to-federico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-issues-ecm-recall-bids-farewell-to-federico/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 10:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=815930 Autoblog reports another recall has been issued by General Motors, this time concerning 51,640 2014 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia crossovers screwed together between March 26 and August 15 of last year. The affected vehicles possess an engine control module whose software may provide an inaccurate fuel gauge reading, forcing the driver to […]

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2014 Buick Enclave Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Autoblog reports another recall has been issued by General Motors, this time concerning 51,640 2014 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia crossovers screwed together between March 26 and August 15 of last year. The affected vehicles possess an engine control module whose software may provide an inaccurate fuel gauge reading, forcing the driver to pull to the side of the road should the tank prove empty instead of a quarter to empty. Owners have been asked to bring their affected crossover for a reflashing of the ECM to correct the issue.

As for the original recall, Automotive News reports GM engineering executive Jim Federico has retired from the company. Federico led a team of engineers in a 2012 investigation of the out-of-spec switch at the heart of the recall, specifically on whether an increase in the switch’s torque would prevent it from slipping out of the “on” position, as well as why the switch prevented sensors in affected vehicles from deploying during a crash. The engineer, who reported directly to current CEO Mary Barra in 2011 when she was global product development chief, had a hand in the development of a handful of vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt, Opel Adam and Buick Regal. A GM spokesman said Federico’s immediate retirement is not related to the ongoing recall crisis.

Meanwhile, the publication put forth a timeline involving engineer Ray DeGiorgio’s original decision to make no changes to the switch, and his subsequent about-face months later that ultimately led to the introduction of the redesigned switch in late April 2006. In short, the atmosphere tied to the company’s “cost culture,” when paired with the financial downward spiral that led to both GM and supplier Delphi seeking emergency funding from the federal government in 2008, gave rise to DeGiorgio — responsible for the switch’s design since 1999 — originally seeing the upgrade as impossible due to the design’s fragility possibly leading to more problems in a redesign. Other proposed solutions were deemed as an unacceptable business case by Chevrolet Cobalt engineering manager Gary Altman, who discovered the problem by accidentally bumping his knee against the switch in testing. Later on, DeGiorgio sought more data into the problem despite his original verdict, working with Delphi to create the upgraded part.

The Detroit News reports the law firms of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles P.C. in Montgomery, Ala. and the Cooper Firm in Marietta, Ga. are joining forces to handle 200 product liability lawsuits against GM in addition to the lawsuits already filed by the firms separately. Founding shareholder of Beasley Allen et al, Jere Beasley, proclaimed the unification necessary in order to “help GM’s victims take on the powerful automaker.” Cooper’s namesake Lance Cooper added that not only will the joint venture benefit their clients, but it will also “allow us to continue in our efforts to get at the truth of what GM knew and when they knew it, so that the American public gets answers to their questions.”

Over in Korea, Automotive News reports GM Korea is devising strategies in the wake of Chevrolet’s 2016 European and Holden’s 2017 manufacturing exits. Aside from its newly expanded design studio, the subsidiary has reduced total daily work hours from 20 to 16, which would cut annual production by 100,000 units while offsetting 150,000 lost annual sales from Europe. Other cuts include early retirement for salaried employees — 200 of 6,000 eligible having accepted thus far — and 60,000 units at GM Korea’s Gunsan plant, where the Cruze and Orlando are assembled. In return, more vehicles could be sent to Australia and other markets from Korea in place of those once manufactured in Australia come 2017 and beyond.

Finally, GM has opted to simplify its customer satisfaction survey in order to gain knowledge from its base faster. The new survey, currently in the pilot phase, is comprised of less than 10 questions, and will ask consumers to rate their dealership experience on a scale of one to five stars, as well as write an online review. If successful, the original 22-question survey would be replaced by the shorter version, both of which are used to award quarterly payouts for dealers under the GM Standards for Excellence program.

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