Around 10 million owners of General Motors vehicles with faulty ignition switches that can cause unintended key rotation won’t be eligible for any sort of compensation from lawyer Kenneth Feinberg’s uncapped compensation fund, according to Fortune. Feinberg was hired by GM to set up a compensation fund to payout victims of crashes in vehicles affected by the initial recall of 2.5 million small cars in February.
The Feinberg protocol was intended from the beginning to only pay victims or those had lost loved ones if they owned a Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Ion or other GM model wrapped up in first recall. Feinberg’s only limitation from GM was “that only certain eligible vehicles are subject to this program,” he said. In total 17 models are eligible for the protocol, but there are other vehicles, like the 5th generation Chevrolet Camaro, that suffer from similar key rotation issues and won’t be included.
GM argues that the problems in the other 10 million cars recalled since March aren’t as serious or as dangerous as those in the February recall. GM spokesperson Alan Adler said extensive testing had been done on all models recalled for ignition switch problems and GM thought that “nothing suggested that it was warranted” to compensate owners of the other vehicles. Adler said GM received complaints about the other cars, but nothing as serious as the 13 deaths which occurred in Cobalts and other related models.
Owners of vehicles not included in Feinberg’s compensation program would have to take GM to court to reach a settlement. The automaker currently faces a class-action lawsuit filed by customers not included in the Feinberg program who claim their cars lost value due to the recalls. Steve Berman, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told Fortune he thinks the Feinberg fund should include all cars with faulty switches and that GM might have only done it for the sake of their corporate image.
“It was maybe a partial offer to ease the congressional heat a little bit,” Berman said. “Congress has a short attention span.”