General Motors’ independent fund has agreed to pay victims of accidents involving faulty ignition switches 594.5 million dollars.
A final report released by Kenneth Feinberg, who led the compensation process, concluded that 124 people died because of GM’s faulty ignition switches, with another 275 suffering injuries. The firm said GM paid less than 10 percent of the 4,343 submitted claims, a total of 594 million dollars in settlements. Company’s costs related to the ignition switch defects now top 2 billion dollars, including a 900-million-dollar settlement with the US Department of Justice in September, the fund said in its final report. The Detroit automaker set up the fund, run by Feinberg, in June 2014, under intense legal and political pressure for failing to disclose ignition defects in older cars for nearly a decade. The fund covered injury and death claims in 2.6 million cars recalled from 2003 through 2011.
The ignition switch could be jarred into the “accessory” position, shutting off the engine, disabling power steering and brakes and preventing air bags from deploying. GM engineers and lawyers knew about the defect for years before the recall, according to a 2014 study commissioned by the company. Fifteen GM employees were dismissed after the report. “We faced the ignition switch issue with integrity, dignity and clear determination to do the right thing both in the short and long term,” GM spokesman Jim Cain said, adding that the fund “was fair, compassionate, generous and non-adversarial.”