General Motors will face its fourth hearing since April 1 this Thursday in front of a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee in regards to the faulty ignition switches in several of its small cars responsible for multiple crashes and at least 13 deaths. Automotive News says the hearing will be more comprehensive than others, with victim compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg present along with internal investigator Anton Valukas, CEO of Delphi Automotive Rodney O’Neal, GM CEO Mary Barra and GM’s top lawyer, Michael Milikin.
Milikin said in a written testimony to be delivered to the subcommittee Thursday that “some lawyers failed the company,” when reviewing the initial findings of the faulty ignition switch, delaying the recall which prompted investigations from the U.S. government.
“We had lawyers at GM who didn’t do their jobs; didn’t do what was expected of them,” Millikin said. “Those lawyers are no longer with the company.”
The faulty switches can be inadvertently shut off when bumped or rattled, causing the engine to shut off while the car is in motion and deactivating power steering and the air bags. GM knew about the problem as far back as 2005 and hesitated to act on the findings.
CEO Mary Barra also prepared written remarks for Thursday, in which she reiterates GM’s employees won’t forget any lessons learned as a result of the recall and that they are working to address underlying issues in the company which may cause a similar situation in the future.
“I have been inundated with calls and e-mails from employees telling me that they are more motivated than ever to make GM the best possible company for customers,” Barra said in the statement.
Chairwoman of Thursday’s Senate panel, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told The Detroit News that GM’s lawyers failed “to connect the dots,” when investigating the faulty switch and that GM sent dealers safety bulletins for the matter “and the legal department didn’t even know about it.” McCaskill also asked why senior GM lawyers were “not really in the Valukas report.” The Valukas report confirmed top lawyer Milikin had no knowledge of the defect prior to when the initial recall was announced in February of this year.