February of this year, General Motors (GM) notified the National Highway Traffic Safety System (NHTSA) that it was recalling vehicles because of a defective ignition switch that could affect the safe operation of the vehicle. GM knew about faulty ignition switches in its various vehicle models for more than a decade but did not issue a recall until February 2014. The ignition switches can slip out of the “ON” position, which can cause the vehicles to stall, disable power steering, and turn off the air bags. This is a serious safety issue that should have been addressed immediately.
By law, GM was required to notify the NHTSA of the defect within five business days of discovering it and issue a recall. Why did GM not act for years to fix the ignition switch problem in its vehicles? GM singles out many individual employees at GM who made poor decisions or failed to act. However, the company has failed to identify a single individual in a position of high leadership who was responsible for these systemic failures. GM refuses to assess any blame on previous GM CEOs, GM Chief Executive Mary Barra, the GM Board, and the legal department from knowing about the defect earlier. GM has blatantly refused to state that this is a cover-up. In an internal report, GM stated that there was no evidence of any of its employees attempting to cover-up the ignition switch defect.
Case reports have shown that a pattern of wanton conduct, incompetence, and neglect has led to the long failure to recall millions of GM vehicles over the deadly ignition switch defect. The defective ignition switch has resulted in the recall of more than 17 million vehicles. The recalls come as GM faces numerous probes and intense criticism for not moving fast enough to fix the ignition switch problem. GM has come under heavy fire from law makers and safety advocates for not acting sooner. The company is facing multiple investigations into why it did not attempt to fix these faulty ignition switches sooner, including a federal criminal probe. On May 16, 2014, GM agreed to pay the Department of Transportation (DOT) the maximum fine of $35 million for delaying the recall of the defective vehicles GM recalled earlier in 2014.
Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, Texas. For over 65 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at 713-396-3964.