News Column

Griffith Says GM Should Not Use Bankruptcy Protection to Block Victims' Compensation

June 18, 2014

WASHINGTON, June 18 -- Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va. (9th CD), issued the following news release:

In a Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing today featuring General Motors Co. (GM) Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra and internal investigator Anton Valukas, Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) pressed Barra on GM's potential liabilities and the company's legal response regarding safety defects that have resulted in the company's recent recalls.

Barra indicated during the hearing that there would be no limit on the victims' compensation trust fund that GM is setting up with compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg. She further indicated that this would cover fatalities and people with serious injuries.

So far, GM is only listing fatalities that involve the failure to deploy an airbag. Griffith asked Barra if GM intends to also include in its list of fatalities situations in which the accident was caused by the loss of power due to faulty ignition switches. Barra replied, "We were clear about the 13. But again, we want to get everybody who was affected. And that's what we're focused on."

When Griffith asked Barra if she wants to be sure that everybody that has been affected is "fully and fairly" compensated by GM, Barra replied, "That is correct." Griffith asked, "Then I have to ask you this question, Ms. Barra - why are your lawyers still trying to seek protection in the bankruptcy court?"

After the hearing, Griffith issued the following statement: "GM's lawyers have argued recently that in the company's 2009 bankruptcy filing, the 'Old GM' sold its assets to a government-backed company and, for having done so, is protected from certain liabilities resulting from previous safety defect problems. By pursuing bankruptcy protection, GM is taking active steps to block what would otherwise be the lawful compensation of those victims who have legitimate claims."

Griffith continued, "GM may be entitled to bankruptcy protection, but don't tell us that you are going to take care of victims while simultaneously seeking a shield from the bankruptcy court from those same victims and their families. If GM truly wants to fully and fairly compensate everyone that's been harmed as a result of safety defect issues, GM's lawyers ought to stop asking the bankruptcy court for protection, and let these matters work their way through the normal channels."

Video of Griffith's questioning available can be seen here on his YouTube page:

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Source: Targeted News Service

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