Washington, DCIn house lawyers at General Motors are under suspicion for their possible role in a cover up of the GM ignition switch design defect and subsequent recall. According to media reports, House and Senate hearings revealed that GM’s legal department apparently played a role in delaying the recall. Further, GM’s lawyers have been settling lawsuits over crashes related to the faulty switch for years, without media attention.
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During the Senate hearings GM CEO Mary Barra was asked how the company’s legal department could know about the ignition switch defect but not make the information public, which could have saved lives. Her response, “ Within GM there were silos, where information was known in one part of the business, for instance in the legal team, but was not communicated to the engineers.”
Barra’s testimony was in response to questions regarding a deposition from a GM engineer who, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., a former prosecutor and subcommittee chairwoman, said lied in his deposition in a lawsuit last year. In his deposition, the engineer allegedly was not clear about why a switch part was changed but not the part number, saying he hadn’t approved the change. However, internal documents reportedly show the engineer had signed off on the change. When asked about why the legal team wouldn’t have been aware of this, Barra said she didn’t know.