In keeping with our practice to keep our clients abreast of the GM recalls issues, the latest reports reveal that the problems at General Motors were endemic and systematic at most levels of the company. Reports from the Associated Press reveal that the automobile giant was not concerned about safety and did not have appropriate procedures in place to adequately address safety issues.
Indeed, based on deficiencies in GM's reporting and investigation structures, safety did not seem to be a priority. The companys own internal review processes reveals that engineers knew of dangerous defects in the ignition switch as early as 2001, according to GM documents released by Congress. Nonetheless, the company failed to take action in light of the safety revelations in 2001.
What is clear from the documents released by Congress is that GMs critical decision making bodies and executive staff did not become aware of the problem. The ignition problem, in particular, was reported only as high as the Executive Director of Vehicle Performance. Additionally, despite GMs own investigative efforts, the company neither took the initiative to institute recalls on its own nor did it report the dangers.
Despite access to information about the grave safety issues posed by faulty ignition switches, GMs existing bureaucratic structure left the company unable to act on safety reports and investigations. For this failure, GM agreed to pay the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration $35 million in fines. The company will also be subject to revamping its internal safety review process and will be overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
GMs woes may not be over as Congress and the Department of Justice investigate whether criminal charges should be initiated.