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GM Hearings: “Culture of Secrecy”

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Jarod Cassidy3 years ago

General Motors (GM) was criticized during a congressional hearing held Wednesday morning for creating what lawmakers labeled a “culture of secrecy.”

Evidence indicates that fear of retaliation and job loss may have prevented those with knowledge of problems with a faulty ignition switch used in 2.6 million vehicles from coming forward.

Mishandling of Recall Due to More than Just Incompetence

Members of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee expressed alarm at learning that reports and evidence concerning defects related to General Motors faulty ignition switch recall was widespread among lower-level engineers and lawyers but were somehow absent from the attention of the company’s top executives.

While GM claims the lack of communication the result of incompetence and negligence by specific employees, who have since been fired, independent reports and interviews suggest that this is not the case.

During interviews with former and current GM employees, the subcommittee noted that multiple individuals stated that they did not feel entirely comfortable with bringing such issues to the attention of higher level employees due to potential retaliation.

In fact, a section of a report completed by an independent investigator, Anton Valukas, noted such an instance. On page 93 of his report, dubbed the “Valukas Report,” a GM safety inspector, Steven Oakley,  is quoted as telling investigators that he was too afraid to press forward with safety concerns linked to the now recalled Chevy Cobalt because his predecessor had “pushed out of the job for doing just that.”

Members of the subcommittee expressed further concern, claiming that current GM employees and people linked to the company are alleging that the release of the Valukas Report and the following terminations have only raised paranoia and fear about bringing up safety concerns.

About the Valukas Report

Released earlier this week, the Valukas Report placed much of the blame for delayed action in GM’s handling of a defective ignition switch equipped in 2.6 million vehicles on lower-level engineers and lawyers while clearing company executives from any wrong doing.

In total, 15 employees were fired for incompetence and negligence following Valukas’ investigation, but lawmakers believe that may not be enough.

During Wednesday’s hearing, members pointed out that many more people had knowledge of the faulty switches beyond those who were terminated. Among those still on the job is Mr. Oakely who openly admitted to pressing the issue fully enough.

Lawmakers made clear during the hearing that investigations into the matter are not closed, and many more answers are needed. 

Thomas J. Henry Injury Attends Congressional Hearing

In attendence at the hearing was personal injury attorney Thomas J. Henry and a number of clients represented by his firm and Bob Hilliard.

Thomas J. Henry is representing more than 1,000 GM recall victims across the United States and has been investigating injuries and deaths linked to the recall since day one. The firm launched a nationwide media investigation into the recall in April, which brought forth thousands of affected individuals who had information critical to the investigation – information that the firm has handed over to federal agencies also investigating GM’s sluggish response the recall.

As more and more individuals have flocked to Thomas J. Henry for representation, the firm has continued to push GM for a victim settlement fund. The firm has had several talks with GM’s victim compensation expert Ken Feinberg regarding appropriate victim compensation for the thousands affected by a fatal design flaw in ignition switches which left numerous dead and countless others seriously injured. 


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