Blumenthal Urges GM To Issue Stronger Recall Warnings, Compensate Victims, Work With Congress On Preventative Measures

Senator Urges GM To Take Some Of These Steps In Advance Of April 2 Senate Subcommittee Hearing On Company’s Recent Recall

(Washington, DC) – In a letter to General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today urged the company to issue stronger recall warnings, compensate drivers and families who were victims of their defective vehicles, and work with Congress on preventative measures to better protect consumers in the future. Blumenthal urged GM to take some of these steps in advance of the April 2 Senate subcommittee hearing on the company’s recent recall.

“I urge you to issue a stronger warning to drivers of recalled vehicles of the acknowledged risk they are facing, including a warning not to drive recalled cars. This warning should be issued as soon as possible – in advance of your testimony before the Subcommittee,” Blumenthal wrote. “As compelling and convincing as the need to warn current drivers is the obligation to compensate past victims for their deaths, injuries, and damage – including families who lost loved ones due to these defects. These victims may well be barred from meaningful recovery due to the effective shield from liability granted through the 2009 bankruptcy asset sale. I believe your company has both a legal and moral duty to right this wrong.”

Full text of the letter is below:

March 27, 2014

Mary Barra
Chief Executive Officer
General Motors Company
P.O Box 33170
Detroit, MI 48232

Dear Ms. Barra:

I request your immediate attention and action concerning severe harms – and reprehensible ongoing risks – resulting from serious defects in many GM cars. Although public attention has focused on disabling ignition switch defects in Chevrolet Cobalts, similar problems existed – and continue to present urgent danger – in other models also recalled by GM.

I look forward to having the opportunity speak to you at the April 2, 2014 hearing of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance. Even before then, I urge that you act immediately to protect drivers of the vehicles that have been recalled. I have reviewed the language of several of the recall notices, and I find that it fails to reflect the immediate, clear safety threat caused by the defects. I urge you to issue a stronger warning to drivers of recalled vehicles of the acknowledged risk they are facing, including a warning not to drive recalled cars. This warning should be issued as soon as possible – in advance of your testimony before the Subcommittee.

As compelling and convincing as the need to warn current drivers is the obligation to compensate past victims for their deaths, injuries, and damage – including families who lost loved ones due to these defects. These victims may well be barred from meaningful recovery due to the effective shield from liability granted through the 2009 bankruptcy asset sale. I believe your company has both a legal and moral duty to right this wrong. The shield from legal responsibility was the result of illegal concealment during the bankruptcy process. I urge you to establish a fund that can be used to fully compensate all harmed by concealed product defects.


Finally, I would like to work with you to ensure that this situation is never repeated. I am working to identify and advance legislation that will improve vehicle safety and the monitoring of known defects. Input and cooperation from the auto industry will be a critical part of this process, and so I request that you meet and work with me and my colleagues to discuss GM’s response to the disclosure issue, lessons learned for future safety threats, and broader reforms to improve the consumer protection system.

Sincerely,

Richard Blumenthal
United States Senate