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NHTSA takes blame for investigation failures related to GM defect

Posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2015   

The NHTSA acknowledges their part in the ten-year failure to recall GM vehicles equipped with a defective ignition switch in a recently issued report, according to the Washington Post on June 5.

The report stated that important facts were withheld by GM, including changes in engineering. Despite this, the NHTSA did not investigate thoroughly enough or understand the automaker’s air bag technology well enough to identify the issue. The issue, which reports stated would have taken 57 cents to replace in each vehicle, resulted in the deaths of over 100 people and the injuries of hundreds more.

Mark Rosekind, who became the administrator for the federal safety agency six months ago, issued another report simultaneously with the critique of the agency’s work—a report on how the NHTSA will move forward from this in a constructive way. According to Rosekind, new policies are already in the works, including one that would mandate all automakers to share safety investigations that are in progress.

To effectively change the agency, however, the NHTSA would need 380 workers meant to enforce defect issues; this would require about $89 million.

The U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who joined Rosekind in a conference call with reporters, summarized the news of the critique when he said, “Defective agencies, like defective people, need the capacity for self-reflection and to make room for self-improvement. And that is what NHTSA is doing today.”

The legal team at Pohl & Berk, LLP, holds automakers accountable when a defect has led to injury and expense. Call us at (615) 277-2765 today to begin taking action.

Confirmed deaths from faulty GM ignition switches reaches 50

Posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2015   

As the January 31 deadline for submitting claims approaches, confirmed deaths due to faulty ignitions in GM vehicles has reached 50.

According to Kenny Feinberg, who handles GM’s recall payments, there have been a total of 338 deaths claims filed from August to January 23.

Through September, GM has recalled 34 million vehicles, and has spent $2.7 billion on repairs, loaner cars, and various other related expenses. GM said it is reserving roughly $600 million to pay for accident claims.

According to a lawyer paid by GM, Anton Valukas, for the last decade, GM hasn’t quickly responded to customer complaints and has disobeyed required protocol by not alerting the public when it replaced faulty ignition switches and changed part numbers.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident caused by a defective vehicle or vehicle part, let the Tennessee auto defect lawyers at Pohl & Berk, LLP, help you understand the full range of legal options available to you. Call us today at 615-277-2765 to learn more about how we can help.

GM massively expands ignition switch recall

Posted on Monday, January 5th, 2015   

GM is adding more than 83,000 vehicles to their initial ignition switch recall that was announced early in 2014, bringing the total number of vehicles named in this recall to 40 million, according to reports by Motor Trend on January 2.

GM’s expansion affects 2011-2012 SUVs and pickups, including the Escalade, Silverado, Yukon, Avalanche, Tahoe, and Sierra. The faulty switch may cause a series of events resulting in the ignition moving to the ‘accessory position;’ if the vehicle enters the accessory position while driving, power is cut to the engine, brakes, steering, and airbags. In addition to the affected models listed above, vehicles repaired with defective parts between 2007 and 2014 may also be affected.

GM has established a compensation program for those who have experienced serious injury or the death of a loved one as a result of the defect. The current deadline to file a claim is January 31, 2015, but this deadline will likely be extended in light of the recent expansion.

GM allegedly pressured supplier to continue to manufacture faulty ignition switch

Posted on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014   

A recently released email suggests that GM urged their supplier, Delphi, to continue to produce ignition switches for their vehicles even after they continued to fail safety testing, according to a report in the New York Times on November 21.

The email was entered as evidence in the multidistrict lawsuit filed against GM in New York. The ignition switch has been identified as the cause of 33 deaths and many more injuries in crashes involving Chevy Cobalts and Saturn Ions in the early 2000s. Simply bumping the ignition has been found to cause the vehicles to stall, but the recent email also revealed that deficient levels of electrical current may have also contributed to the problem. When reports of accidents began stacking up, Raymond DeGiorgio, the GM engineer who approved the switch design in 2001, demanded more stringent safety testing from Delphi.

However, a 2005 email from Thomas Svoboda, the customer specialist at Delphi assigned to the case, accuses DeGiorgio of ordering the tests only to “cover his butt,” knowing that it would fail. Svoboda also expresses frustration with Delphi, saying that they should have refused business with GM, one of their largest accounts, instead of being bullied into “spending hundreds or thousands of hours trying to make it work” even though both sides knew the switch “was never able to cut it.”

DeGiorgio denies these allegations, saying, “I did my job the best I could.”

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