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Laws Obstruct Prosecution of G.M. Employees Over Ignition Defect

Posted on Thursday, July 23rd, 2015   

General Motors is responsible for over 124 deaths and 266 injuries due to a faulty ignition switch, of which factory workers and corporate officials alike were aware. However, prosecutors attempting to charge individual employees who knew about this deadly defect have been met with an unfortunate legal roadblock.

Despite a history of lawmakers’ attempts to create stricter regulations, including criminal liability, for automakers, automakers and lobbyists have successfully kept legal standards low for the auto industry. The result of substantial lobbying and interference from trade groups representing the auto industry is that the current prosecution of G.M. over the release of defective automobiles is an uphill battle, with the prosecution of individual G.M. employees proving even more difficult.

Some lawmakers, including Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, are fighting to introduce laws that would inflict stiffer criminal penalties for corporate workers who knowingly conceal a defect that endangers the safety of the public. However, a spokesperson for the auto alliance argued that imposing criminal penalties would not spur faster recall decisions by automakers or help identify defects faster.

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