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Sen. Blumenthal Expresses Concerns about GM Fund Estimate

Tina Robinson2 years ago

With the recent announcement that General Motors expects to pay between $400 and $600 million to settle GM fund claims, one lawmaker is questioning how that number was determined.

GM Fund Payouts Estimated at $400 Million Total

The estimated cost of $400 million to about $600 million for GM settlement fund payments from GM was released last week as part of its quarterly filing report. On Friday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent CEO Mary Barra a letter asking her to explain that estimate, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Blumenthal’s letter raised concern that GM was “undervaluing” claims and expressed wary that the estimate suggested the automaker might not fulfill its moral obligation to ignition recall victims.

The problem, Blumenthal says, is with the supposedly uncapped nature of the GM fund. Families whose loved one died in crashes involving the recalled vehicles could receive $1 million in non-economic damages on top of an uncapped payment for economic damages based on the deceased’s income history and other factors. With that in mind, Blumenthal’s letter is asking for the rationale behind GM’s estimate.

GM Settlement Fund to Begin Accepting Claims Friday

The GM victim fund is set to begin accepting claims on Friday, Aug. 1. The fund was drafted by victims’ compensation specialist attorney Ken Feinberg in response to the ignition switch recall initiated earlier this year. The recall covered about 2.6 million older vehicles, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, whose ignition switches can be pushed out of the “run” position. The resulting engine stalls also caused a loss of standard safety features such as power steering, power brakes, and airbag failure.

At least 13 deaths and 54 crashes resulted from the defect, which documents showed GM knew about for more than a decade. In the aftermath of the ignition recall, GM has conducted record-breaking safety recalls, been subjected to multiple federal investigations, and paid a $35 million fine for its delayed actions.

Thomas J. Henry Represents Recall Victims

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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