GM announced yesterday that nearly 3.4 million more vehicles will be recalled in light of its review of ignition switch issues following the first set of recalls affecting 2.6 million cars earlier this year. This move brings the total number of vehicles recalled by GM this year over 20 million.
GM admitted in February that its engineers first knew of the ignition switch issues as early as 2004, leading to an investigation into the nearly 11-year delay in recalling the faulty vehicles. Less than two weeks ago, GM announced its decision to dismiss 15 employees, and to discipline 5 additional employees, in wake of the three-month investigation by former federal prosecutor Anton Valuka. While Valuka’s report did not reveal a conspiracy by the corporation to cover up relevant facts over the 11 year delay, it did point to “a pattern of incompetence and neglect” throughout the company, especially in regards to the 20 employees the report found to be the most at fault.
At least thirteen deaths have been attributed to the faulty ignition switch, which can fall out of the “run” position while the vehicle is in operation, shutting down crucial safety features such as airbags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has indicated that the number may, in fact, be much higher.
The company’s CEO, Mary Barra, has said that GM will voluntarily create a program to compensate those who have suffered injuries or death due to the defective cars, but she has not indicated how large that fund may be. According to GM president Dan Ammann, compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg will be in charge of determining who is eligible and to what extent. Feinberg will also be responsible for determining whether there have been more than 13 deaths caused by the defect.
GM is set to start accepting claims on August 1. Bahe, Cook, Cantley & Nefzger, PLC is currently seeking damages for a client who sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by the faulty ignition and air bag deployment. We are also currently reviewing and accepting more of these claims.