Feinberg Plan Unveiled, Endures Criticism From Attorneys

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
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feinberg plan unveiled endures criticism from attorneys

Victim compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg, hired by General Motors to develop a program to pay those harmed or killed by the ignition switch at the center of the February 2014 recall and subsequent fallout, unveiled his compensation plan Monday. However, the plan found a few critics over its lack of punitive damage claims, and the fact all payments would be made under Feinberg’s discretion.

Automotive News reports the plan will have no cap on payments, and will accept claims from anyone involved in an GM-related accident where the airbag failed to deploy as a result of a loss of power, including other drivers, passengers and bystanders, and even if other factors — alcohol, no seat belts et al — were involved. Further, those who had settled with the automaker previously can toss aside the settlement paperwork and file a claim, though all who do will forfeit their right to sue the automaker afterwards.

Claimants will need to file “various examples of circumstantial evidence” that the ignition switch was the main cause of any accident, with payment based on death, catastrophic injury, and/or less serious injury/outpatient treatment. Claims will be accepted between August 1 and December 31, 2014, and more information can be found via the program’s website.

Meanwhile, The Detroit News reports attorney Jere L. Beasley of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery, Ala. says the plan is lacking in punitive damages, proclaiming it unfair for GM “to escape wrongful conduct” in its part of the ignition switch crisis. He also wants a judge to oversee the payments, and believes the plan places too much of a burden on those affected to prove they were harmed by the automaker’s misconduct. Beasley, fellow attorney Lance Cooper, and Texas lawyer Robert Hilliard are all working with their clients to determine whether to pursuit a claim or continue forward with their lawsuits.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Wmba Wmba on Jul 01, 2014

    " and believes the plan places too much of a burden on those affected to prove they were harmed by the automaker’s misconduct." Nah, just hand out free money to anyone who asks. Makes it easier all around. Hard to imagine a sane person saying something as stupid as this in public.

    • I_S I_S on Jul 01, 2014

      "Claimants will need to file “various examples of circumstantial evidence” that the ignition switch was the main cause of any accident". There is a difference between saying "pay me because I've been hit by a Cobalt" to "pay me because I've been hit by a Cobalt that lost control for a very specific reason". In many cases the claimants will likely have to rely on police reports as their sole source of "circumstantial evidence", which may or may not include enough detail to pinpoint to the cause of the accident. Hence the attorney's frustration. The more forgiving request would have been to point to the kind of evidence they will accept as valid, so that each potential claimant can choose to either pursue a lawsuit or file a claim. With respect to the punitive damages, wouldn't it be nice if it were to the tune of Toyota's 9-figure fine? The road infrastructure could sure use the cash boost :)

  • Geekcarlover Geekcarlover on Jul 01, 2014

    I want to see the details. As originally reported, this sounded a lot like the BP agreement after the gulf oil spill. They wound up paying people in Georgia and Utah. They also made payments to companies that didn't even exist at the time of the blowout. I can't believe a company would announce an open payment system, without first giving several hoops to jump through.

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