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Capitol Hill Q and A with GM CEO Mary Barra on the Ignition Switch Recall

Congress - GM Recall Lawyers

On April 2, 2014, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D – Missouri) got the opportunity to ask company CEO Mary Barra a number of uncomfortable questions concerning the GM ignition switch recall .

The Q&A session took place during a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance.

Barra’s answers to McCaskill’s questions were very revealing–although they didn’t provide much in the way of actual information.

Sen. McCaskill began by taking Barra back to April and May of 2013 when some of GM’s employees were deposed in a case stemming from a motor vehicle accident death allegedly caused by the defective ignition switch.

In each of those depositions, a lawyer for GM was present.

Sen. McCaskill asked Barra what happened after it came out in those depositions that there were in fact 2 different ignition switch parts labeled with the exact same part number, each with different torque ratings that was ultimately causing the defect to occur.

Barra sidestepped like a pro, claiming that she didn’t “have the complete facts to share” with the Senator today.

Barra went on to dance around Sen. McCaskill’s questions like an experienced politician herself.

For example:

When asked how many claims had been brought against GM related to the ignition switch defect, she answered, “I don’t have that information.”

When queried as to whether or not she had been briefed by her lawyer regarding the company’s financial exposure or risk on these claims, Barra replied, “We have not talked about exposure.”

Finally, when asked if GM’s own specifications for the Cobalt airbag system, the ones provided to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), included provisions for an independent power source that would armed and ready to fire even up to 60 seconds after a vehicle’s power is shut off in order to protect the occupants in case of the ignition switch failure, Barra responded, “I don’t know.”

That emergency independent power system, of course, never made it into production Cobalts.

Looks like the “new” GM is not much different from the old.

Or maybe it’s the automobile industry as a whole that is the problem?

Other manufacturers like Jeep and Nissan continue to recall vehicles at a staggering pace leading some experts to speculate that 2015 may even top the record-setting recall year of 2014.

Only time will tell.