Beasley Allen Founding Shareholder Jere L. Beasley says GM’s testimony today in front of a congressional committee does little to remove doubt from his mind that GM executives were aware of potentially deadly safety defects surrounding the ignition switch in its vehicles for more than 10 years. GM CEO Mary Barra testified this morning before the Congressional Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation regarding the company’s conduct surrounding its defective ignition switch. Also testifying was Anton Valukas, who was hired by GM to do an independent evaluation of the company’s conduct.
Beasley says, “Today’s hearing testimony leaves a great deal unanswered and much yet to be done. No reasonable person should believe that top management at GM didn’t know about the obvious safety problems involving the ignition switch which was labeled the ‘switch from Hell’ by the very engineer who designed it.
“We hear an automaker described that was both incompetent and negligent over a period of 11 years, a finding clearly set out in the investigative report. Yet we hear the new CEO of GM telling the Congressional Committee that top management for over a decade was totally in the dark about a serious safety issue. This is especially disturbing considering that during that decade hundreds of innocent victims were being killed and seriously injured.
“I said yesterday that GM needed to come clean and start telling the complete truth about what GM knew, who all knew it, and why nothing was done. After the hearing today, I don’t believe that we are getting the complete truth. To finally get the full truth about the safety culture and performance at GM it will require the total involvement of the civil and criminal justice systems. I don’t trust GM to do the right thing to the hundreds of families who have buried loved ones who were killed because of GM’s wrongdoing and massive cover-up.”
The ignition switch in these vehicles may move from the “run” position to the “off” or “accessory” position, disabling power steering and brakes during operation, also possibly deactivating the airbags. In February 2014, only after evidence emerged in a wrongful death lawsuit proving GM had longstanding knowledge of the ignition switch defect, the company started recalling its affected vehicles. That recall now encompasses 2.6 million vehicles, and GM admits to at least 13 deaths related to the defect. This week, GM announced it is recalling an additional 3.4 million midsize and large cars for the same ignition switch defect.
Watch the full Congressional hearing on CSPAN.