General Motors and safety regulators now have a second recall to answer for, according to a report on CNN Money. The first one, which has been in the limelight for several weeks now, involved long delays in initiating a recall tied to defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths. GM knew of the problem in 2004, but the recall involving 2.6 million cars was announced only in February.
Now, a second recall announced late last month involving problems with power steering affecting 1.3 million vehicles is being called into question. Those defects involving Saturn Ion models from 2004 to 2007, have been tied to 12 accidents, but no deaths. The first report of a Saturn Ion power steering issue was sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in June 2004. Newly released documents show that the agency launched a probe only in September 2011. The issue had generated 4,800 consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty claims.
Automaker Tries to Skirt Liability
Also, in other GM news, the automaker is trying to skirt liability for deaths and injuries caused by the faulty ignition switches. Now, more accident victims and their families are protesting GM’s use of its 2009 bankruptcy sale to shield it from liability. In a filing this week with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, a group of people suing the automaker over the ignition switch defect asked that the judge bar the company from using its government-orchestrated sale as protection from lawsuits. GM is arguing that the sale left behind any liabilities related to the ignition defect with the “old GM.” But lawyers for the victims say the company violated that order by withholding information about the defect – by orchestrating a massive cover-up.
GM Should Be Held Accountable
The reports released this week shed further light on GM’s culture of covering up important safety defect information it should have released to consumers. GM took $40 billion in taxpayer dollars in 2009 to bail itself out of trouble and get through a bankruptcy sale. Now, the company is using that bailout and sale as an excuse to get out of paying injured victims and families the compensation they rightfully deserve. GM should do the right thing here. Instead of shelling out millions to its legal defense team, the automaker should step up to the plate and take responsibility for its actions – or the lack of it.