Consumer Letter to GM to Create Compensation Fund

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

(PDF Version)

Mary T. Barra
Chief Executive Officer
General Motors Company
PO Box 33170
Detroit MI 48232

Dear Ms. Barra:

On March 12, 2014, the Center for Auto Safety and former NHTSA Administrator Joan Claybrook sent you a letter strongly urging GM to establish a trust fund “to cover losses of victims and families of safety defects whose claims have been extinguished by the bankruptcy or barred by statutes of repose or limitations.”  The undersigned join that request.  

As you know, in 2009 GM shed itself of all legal responsibility for injuries or deaths caused by defective GM cars for crashes occurring before July 10, 2009.  This left hundreds of victims with little or nothing, including children with catastrophic injuries who had pending claims.  Moreover, the New York Times recently reported that GM has been hiding behind the bankruptcy order to do such things as “come after the family of an accident victim for reimbursement of legal fees if the family did not withdraw its lawsuit.”  This is morally reprehensible.  

We now know that GM failed to disclose information about the massive faulty ignition defect while negotiating for its immunity, including settling cases confidentially so no one would learn of GM’s responsibility for causing these fatal crashes.  The company now has had 16 consecutive profitable quarters, with a $3.8 billion profit in 2013.  GM can well afford to help its victims and it has a moral obligation to do so.  

You say GM is “focused on ensuring the safety and peace of mind of our customers involved in the recall.”  If that is true, relieving your former customers of the unconscionable burden of this bankruptcy and establishing a trust fund to help all of your victims must be your first step. Thank you for considering our views.  (For questions about this matter, please contact Joanne Doroshow at the Center for Justice & Democracy, [email protected].)

Very sincerely,

Alliance for Justice
Center for Justice & Democracy
Citizen Action/Illinois
Citizen Action of Wisconsin
Consumer Federation of America
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety
Consumers Union
Consumer Watchdog
Kentucky Watch
New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)
Public Citizen
Ralph Nader
Texans for Public Justice

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