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Top GM Lawyer to Testify in Senate Hearing Tomorrow

Tina Robinson2 years ago

Tomorrow the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee will host a second hearing as part of ongoing investigations into why General Motors failed to recall vehicles with defective ignition switches, despite knowing about the problems for more than a decade. According to the Wall Street Journal, GM General Counsel Michael Millikin is expected to play a key role in the hearings.

Millikin: Staff Failed to Follow Procedure

As investigations continue to widen, questions about involvement from top legal staff at GM have risen. The Valukas Report, a 300-plus page document compiled by former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas, found that GM’s top lawyer, Mr. Millikin, was effectively kept in the dark about wrongful death settlements involving the defective vehicles. GM protocol allowed settlements of up to $5 million without requiring Millikin’s approval.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Millikin is expected to say in a prepared statement tomorrow that his staff failed to follow proper procedure. Those staff members, he will say, are part of the 15 employees fired in June after the Valukas Report was released.

GM Probe Widens

While the previous Senate hearing held in April focused largely on corporate culture, lawmakers say their scrutiny will focus on what higher GM and Delphi executives knew. Chief executive for Delphi Automotive PLC, the maker of the defective switches, is expected to testify tomorrow.

Recently released House documents have raised questions about involvement from Delphi and other GM staff. An e-mail dated June 2, 2006 and copied to about 30 employees discusses changes to a printed circuit board as well as a “critical mechanical change” to the ignition switches.

Sen. Richard D. Blumenthal told reporters, “”They would have us believe that no one in the company's executive ranks knew of the faulty ignition-switch problems although there are emails after emails showing Mr. DeGiorgio talking with other engineers and suppliers. I am very interested in the report's gaps and black holes as far as when it comes to upper level management. The report stops short of going higher on who knew what and when.”

About the GM Ignition Recall

The GM ignition recall was initiated in February this year and twice expanded to eventually include about 2.6 million older compact vehicles. The ignition switches in these vehicles were approved despite failing to meet GM’s torque-specifications which led to engine stalls and the disabling of safety equipment when GM keys rotated out of the “run” position. Plaintiffs’ lawyers and safety advocates say there have hundreds, if not thousands, of victims injured by the recalled vehicles. GM, however, has only publicly acknowledged 13 deaths and 54 crashes linked to the defect.

Thomas J. Henry Fights for GM 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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