Five U.S. Senators have asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice to require General Motors setup a victims’ compensation fund for those individuals who were affected by a faulty ignition switch in 2.6 million of the automaker’s vehicles. A letter to Holder also asked the DoJ to intervene in about 20 civil suits where GM may deny responsibility for damages.
According to The Detroit News, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii and Ed Markey, D-Mass., wrote Holder on Friday asking the DoJ to intervene in the situation and to “ensure consumers are adequately aware of operating defective vehicles prior to repair.”
During the company’ s congressional hearing earlier this month, CEO Mary Barra announced they had hired well known victim compensation expert Ken Feinberg to help explore the company’s legal options in regards to compensating victims. Victims advocacy groups have urged GM to create a victims fund, along with Blumenthal, who asked the DoJ to “oppose any effort by GM to deny responsibility for consumer damages,” in a letter last month.
“We write to request your immediate intervention and assistance on behalf of victims of severe damage — financial harm, physical injury, and death — resulting from serious ignition switch defects in General Motors cars,” the senators wrote. “Without your active involvement, they may have no meaningful remedy. Given the crucial role the United States government played in creation of the current General Motors Corporation, we believe the federal government has a moral, if not legal, obligation to take all necessary steps to protect innocent consumers.”
The letter also touched upon the agreement reached in GM’s federal bankruptcy proceedings which noted GM was not responsible for product liability suits that were left behind with “Old GM.” It stated victims have “filed various state court actions, which GM has removed to federal court and asked to be transferred to the United States Bankruptcy Court, knowing that the GM reorganization there cannot be reopened under technical procedural rules and recourse will likely be blocked.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DoJ have launched a criminal investigation into GM’s handling of complaints of ignition switch problems, but have made no announcements in regards to the matter.