General Motors has hired an outside law firm to review its litigation practices following the delayed recall of millions of small cars with faulty ignition switches, according to the Detroit Free Press. The move will be announced today by GM chief counsel Michael Milikin as he joins GM CEO Mary Barra and Delphi Automotive CEO Rodney O’Neal in testifying before a Senate subcommittee.
Milikin has yet to speak publicly about the GM legal department’s or his own role in the delayed recall response of cars with faulty ignition switches. Internal investigator Anton Valukas report on the company found members of the legal team knew about the faulty ignition switch in 2005, but Milikin claims he didn’t find out until GM was ready to recall the cars. Many of the 15 people fired as a result of the Valuks report were members of the legal team.
Since then, Milikin has reorganized and brought in new legal staff, including bringing in attorneys from two outside firms and hiring another outside firm to conduct a review of its litigation procedures. The Free Press says he has also told staff to bring him cases involving fatalities or serious injury personally for review.
“We had lawyers at GM who didn’t do their jobs; didn’t do what was expected of them. Those lawyers are no longer with the company,” Milliken said in prepared remarks for the subcommittee. “I have taken, and will continue to take steps to make sure something like this never happens again.”
Today’s hearing, which is the second in front of the Senate, will likely cover topics that haven’t been gone over in previous hearings about the GM ignition switch case. Senators will have tough questions for O’Neal, whose company manufactured the faulty switches. They will also be eager to ask Milikin questions about the GM legal department’s role in the delayed recall which have yet to be asked.