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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.

General Motors could face criminal charges

Posted on Wednesday, May 27th, 2015   

After more than a year of deliberation by federal prosecutors, General Motors may be held criminally responsible for their failure to disclose an ignition switch defect that is linked to at least 104 fatal accidents. Over the last year, G.M. has recalled more than 30 million vehicles worldwide.

At the moment, investigators with the Justice Department are in the process of negotiating a penalty with G.M. that is thought to exceed the $1.2 billion benchmark that Toyota paid last year. Unlike Toyota, however, G.M. is reportedly eager to conclude the investigation. As a result, it is believed that the company will likely gain some leniency for their cooperation.

Though the Justice Department’s investigators identified criminal wrongdoing in the case, prosecutors and G.M. are also still in negotiations as to which elements of misconduct the company will be willing to admit. Criminal charges may also be sought against a number of former G.M. employees.

It is possible that G.M. may be forced to plead guilty to a crime, but federal prosecutors may choose to negotiate a deferred-prosecution agreement similar to that negotiated with Toyota. If they elect to pursue the latter scenario, G.M. would likely also be expected to allow regulators to continue to review its safety practices, along with any other stipulations negotiated by federal prosecutors.

Whatever happens with the Justice Department, G.M. still faces an uphill battle with state attorneys general who are pursuing consumer fraud investigations, in addition to numerous lawsuits for personal injury and wrongful death.

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 ignition switches ordered months before recall

Posted on Tuesday, November 11th, 2014   

According to revealing e-mails that will likely affect court proceedings against the company, General Motors Co. (GM) issued an urgent order of ignition switches for replacement in certain vehicle models in December 2013—months prior to its massive February recall, the Wall Street Journal reported on November 10.

The e-mails were sent on December 18 between GM and Delphi Automotive PLC, the company that supplied the switches, and they asked for quick shipment of 500,000 ignition switches. A GM executive meeting had occurred the day before these e-mails were sent. An investigative report paid for by GM, however, previously claimed that a recall had not been decided on at that point.

Trials for those pursuing losses from GM in relation to the potentially fatal ignition switch defect will begin in January 2016. Although GM spokesman Alan Adler stated it was never deemed necessary to disclose the December ignition switch order, the e-mails will likely be used in court to question the company’s actions prior to the recall and their transparency in the aftermath.

Delphi was asked to produce the e-mails in regards to a court case in New York.

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