By on July 1, 2014

Kenneth Feinberg

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.

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6 Comments on “Feinberg Plan Unveiled, Endures Criticism From Attorneys...”

  • avatar

    Feinberg oversaw compensation to the families of the victims of 9/11. Almost all accepted the offered settlement as being very generous. This is different in that the evidence will be evaluated and some of that may have long since gone to the crusher. The devil is in details, but GM’s selecting Feinberg doesn’t sound like a hardball move.
    I think in 9/11, the offers on the table didn’t preclude pursuing a suit if the offer were rejected by the families.

  • avatar

    What would one expect hungry trial attorneys to say? I’d be disappointed if they went along with it.

  • avatar

    his intelligence is exceeded by his photogenic value.

  • avatar

    ” 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.

    • 0 avatar

      “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 :)

  • avatar

    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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