The lawyers for a family that filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the largest US automaker – and practically led to last year’s recall of 2.6 million cars – claimed the GM managers had knowledge of the defect and participated in a cover-up.
According to the lawyers – with their declaration being made as part of the announcement that their clients had settled with the company for an unannounced amount – documents that are under seal as part of their case proved the executives participated in a cover-up of the faulty ignition switch before 2014 – when the recalls were announced. The documents, says attorney Lance Cooper, show how both GM engineers and management officials had knowledge of the poor safety results of the defective switch but chose instead to ignore the problem. The claims would come in contradiction both with the results of the “Valukas report” – an internal review ordered by GM and released in 2014 – and with declarations made by chief executive Mary Barra who said the issue came to her attention early last year, when she ordered the recall that degenerated in a massive public scandal. Cooper denied to make the documents public because they are under seal.
Back in February 2014, GM ordered the recall of 2.6 million cars equipped with defective ignition switches – they could slip out of the “on” position to accessory or “off”, shutting down the engine while driving and cutting power to crucial safety systems, including the airbags. So far, the company’s ignition victims’ compensation program has identified 67 death victims and also last year, after the recall Anton Valukas, an attorney at eJnner & Block LLP was asked to review the company’s inability to react properly to the defect that had been known for at least a decade.