General Motors’ top lawyer, Michael Millikin, 66, has decided to retire from his function, informing the US automaker of his decision late last week, according to the company.
The chief counselor is set to leave his post open from early 2015, and the lawyer would be leaving just months after his department was the target for an intensive scrutiny – in relation to the way it conducted the automaker’s response to the defective ignition switch crisis. He was also heavily criticized for his conduct when he faced a related Congressional hearing, with the recall debacle linked so far to 27 deaths.
Back in February, GM issued a recall for 2.6 million cars equipped with defective ignition switches – with an internal investigation revealing that company employees (including from the legal department) had the information for more than a decade. While the probe said that senior officials, including Millikin, were unaware of the issue, subsequent Congressional hearings raised the question – why top executives had no knowledge of the company’s inner workings? Also, a victims’ compensation fund set to provide aide to the victims and families of accidents tied to the initial batch of cars found the company’s first assessment on fatalities (13 cases) is undervalued, with the tally now standing at 27 deaths. There is also room to grow – the fund’s outside manager, Ken Feinberg, is accepting claims until December 31, 2014.