Blumenthal Statement On Feinberg Decision To Extend GM Victim Compensation Fund Deadline To January 31

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today released the following statement after General Motors (GM) victims compensation fund Administrator Kenneth Feinberg announced he is extending the deadline for families to apply to the fund by one month to January 31, 2014. Blumenthal called on Feinberg to extend the deadline after the New York Times reported the story of Jean Averill of Washington, CT, earlier this month. Ms. Averill was one of the earliest victims of GM’s defective ignition switches, and, although the company’s internal reports included her on the list of victims of the defect at least dating back to the release of the Valukas Report in June 2014, the company never informed the Averill family of its determination of the cause of her accident of the existence of the compensation fund.

“This incident illustrates the need to reconsider and substantially modify – if not eliminate – these arbitrary compensation fund deadlines. I commend and appreciate the spirit that is reflected in extending the deadline, but the practical effect is inadequate. Victims must have a meaningful choice between accepting compensation through the fund and pursuing their claims in court, and that choice can’t be made until the outcomes of the bankruptcy proceeding and the Department of Justice investigation are known. Right now, injured parties do not know enough about their legal rights or facts to make an intelligent or informed decisions. They will not know the full extent of their rights until the bankruptcy court decides whether to lift the liability shield that GM now unjustifiably hides behind.

“GM should either commit to waiving its bankruptcy shield in all pending legal actions, or permit all victims who qualify for the fund to postpone their acceptance of their compensation until the completion of the Department of Justice investigation into GM’s possible criminal actions.

“GM's failure to notice the Averill family remains a shocking contradiction of whatever public trust the company was taking steps to rebuild. General Motors still must immediately provide proof that they have notified each of the families they know to have been harmed by their defect and direct Mr. Feinberg to make future extensions to the fund deadline if evidence is presented that there are other families, like the Averills, from whom information is being withheld.”