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General Motors Reassigns Exec with Ties to Ignition Recall

Tina Robinson2 years ago

Last week, General Motors announced it was reassigning executive M. Carmen Benavides to a new position as company-wide restructuring continues. According to Reuters, Benavides has been named director of safety improvement initiatives.

GM Restructuring

GM spokesman Greg Martin confirmed that Benavides has been reassigned from her position as director of field product investigations and evaluations to director of safety improvement initiatives. Benavides’ former position will now be held by Brian Latouf.

Martin said the moves were unrelated to the ignition switch recall but were part of executive changes and restructuring that aims to improve vehicle safety and quality. Previously, the company had announced on April 22 that engineering would be split into two groups as well as the retirement of John Calabrese.

Benavides is one of the GM executives whose named appeared on many of the documents released in the ignition recall investigation. One e-mail from a top NHTSA official sent to Benavides complained the car maker was “slow to respond” and difficult to work with.

GM Ignition Recall

Since February, GM has recalled about 2.6 million older compact car models, including the Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Ion, and Pontiac G5, which were found to have defective ignition switches. Owners of the cars had frequently lodged complaints about the engine stalling, brake failure and steering defects while driving the vehicles. The problem, which GM knew about for over a decade, was with the ignition switch which could be easily bumped out of the “run” position.

Multiple federal investigations have looked at why the company failed to recall the unsafe vehicles for so long. The company could be fined or even have criminal charges filed against it.

At least 13 deaths have been linked by GM to the faulty switches, although lawyers and safety advocates claim that number could be much higher. Numerous victims have filed lawsuits against GM seeking compensation for damages.

In April, GM announced it had retained the services of attorney Ken Feinberg to help the automaker explore options for establishing a GM compensation fund. Although details of a potential GM fund are still in the works, Feinberg met with plaintiffs’ lawyers earlier this month to begin discussing claims. 

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