Brian Chase, partner at Newport Beach California auto defect law firm BISNAR | CHASE, has challenged General Motors CEO Mary Barra’s defense of her company’s actions in connection with ignition defects linked to at least 13 deaths and 47 crashes.
Chase was interviewed by The New York Times today in connection with the newspaper’s coverage of the results of an internal investigation overseen by Anton R. Valukas, a former United States attorney. The Valukas report was released by Barra today to GM employees.
Hardly an Unbiased Report
Chase represented the family of Shara Lynn Towne, mother of five killed in a 2004 Saturn Ion whose death GM counts among the 13 ignition defect fatalities Towne is the first known victim who died as a result of the ignition defects. Chase tuned in to Barra’s remarks this morning from California. He told The New York Times that Barra failed to answer any questions and instead, simply toed the party line. Chase heard Barra say that there was no evidence of her company putting profits over people. And yet, 15 people were fired.
All Barra said was that the investigation found incompetence and that the officials “did not do enough.” Chase said he is extremely dissatisfied with Barra’s weak explanation on a serious matter where at least 13 families have lost loved ones. Chase also told the Times that he did not believe that the Valukas investigation could have been impartial because General Motors was paying him. It’s like the fox guarding the henhouse, Chase said.
Will GM Be Held Accountable?
Also, Barra did not divulge the names or titles of any of the employees who were asked to leave. All she would say was that “more than 50 percent” of those were executives. In April, two midlevel engineers were placed on leave. Barra said she and other top-level management did not know about the ignition defects and related fatalities until January. Although she announced that GM would put together a long-awaited compensation package for victims, details are scarce.
Chase says he is prepared to fight for the rights of anyone who has been injured by these GM ignition defects – just as he did for Shara Lynn Towne’s family. “It is beyond appalling that this company covered up serious safety defect that led to injuries and deaths,” Chase said. “After a decade of covering up and giving victims and their families the runaround, what GM is doing is too little too late.”