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NHTSA Still Under Scrutiny in GM Probe

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Jarod Cassidy3 years ago

During a congressional hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, U.S. Representative Fred Upton indicated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is still under investigation for shortcomings observed during General Motors' (GM) delayed ignition switch recall.

More Answers Needed from NHTSA

“The system failed, people died, and it could have been prevented.” –  U.S. Representative Fred Upton as published by Muskegon Chronicle

NHTSA is expected to face further scrutiny as lawmakers attempt to deduce what changes need to be made to ensure that automotive safety issues, like those caused by faulty ignition switches equipped in 2.6 million GM vehicles are handled in a timely manner.

Upton indicated that at some point in the near future, public officials will review and address the regulatory agency’s shortcomings and answer questions as to what laws and regulatory practices need to be enacted or adjusted.

In at least two instances, NHTSA had declined to open an official investigation into the now recalled vehicles, despite receiving numerous reports of fatal collisions in which airbags failed to inflate.

In previous hearings, acting head of NHTSA David Friedman testified that GM withheld vital information and that had the information been provided to the regulator, a recall would have been forced.

GM Questioned on Valukas Investigation

GM CEO Mary Barra and the head of GM’s internal investigation Anton Valukas faced a variety of questions from lawmakers concerning Valukas’ investigation. Among those were questions of the validity of the investigation itself.

The committee addressed a letter from the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety by Clarence Ditlow in which the watchdog group claimed that the Valukas investigation was “clearly flawed.”

Ditlow claimed that Valukas wrongly accepted GM’s explanation that the automaker’s senior managers did not know that stalling in vehicles could be a safety hazard. Instead, the Valukas report states the managers and engineers classified stalls as a customer inconvenience.

Ditlow also accused Valukas of “repeatedly [omitting] materials that show GM at its highest levels of management considers stalling to be a safety defect.”

Further speculation into the validity and independent nature of the Valukas investigation are based in Valukas’ history with the automaker. Valukas has consistently represented General Motors over the years, leading some to suspect that Valukas may have too much stake in the company to be free of bias.

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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