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Congress Grills GM CEO, Mary Barra, Who Apologizes for Ignition Switch Fiasco

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 16-Jul-2014

In June, Congressional leaders once again listened to General Motors CEO, Mary Barra, give a mea culpa — another chapter in the ongoing fiasco regarding the company’s defective ignition switch.

(For a recapitulation, please see the last several posts we’ve published on this topic, which catalog the reasons for the recall and the general implications both for the company and for the country).

Republican Tim Murphy, the Chairman of the House Committee that’s investigating the GM scandal, spoke frankly: “I remain unconvinced it wasn’t an effort [by GM] to cover up bad decisions to avoid liability.”

Per a report that GM itself had put together, “people look to others to do something, but no one accepts responsibility.” Although the company has fired 15 people over the ignition switch, Murphy maintained that “99.999% of the people are the same,” and he rued “a culture that allowed safety problems to fester for years” and a “system [that] failed” and led to preventable deaths.

Anton Valukas, a lawyer responsible for putting together the GM report, identified “serious cultural issues” within GM that created the crisis: “no one goes back to review previous decisions.” Information got siloed, and an almost Big Brother-like culture precluded GM engineers and employees from using certain words like “stalls,” which would have compelled company officials to ask challenging questions… which in turn could have led to an earlier recall and a less messy process.

Valukas did not indict GM. He did not think there was a systematic cover up. Rather, he blamed “a corporate culture of carelessness where life-saving information sits in boxes.”

GM’s CEO Mary Barra, meanwhile, tried to put a good face on the matter, saying, “the men and women of GM, the vast majority come to work every day and want to do a good job… they want to do the right thing.”

Not all Congressional investigators were satisfied by Barra’s statement or Valukas’ report.

Diana DeGette, the highest-ranking Democrat on the subcommittee investigating the GM debacle, said “[Valukas’] report singles out many individuals at GM who made poor decisions or failed to act, but it doesn’t identify one individual in positions of high leadership who was responsible for these systemic failures.”

If you need help understanding your rights regarding a Washington, D.C. personal injury case or defective product case, contact the attorneys at Regan, Zambri & Long at (202) 759-6699 for a free consultation.
 

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