GM: incompetence, negligence led to delayed recall

By TOM KRISHER and DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP Auto Writers Modified: June 5, 2014 at 9:59 am •  Published: June 5, 2014
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WARREN, Mich. — GM CEO Mary Barra said 15 employees have been fired and five others have been disciplined over the company’s failure to disclose a defect with ignition switches that is now linked to at least 13 deaths.

The company also will form a compensation program for families of victims and those who suffered serious injuries in accidents related to the switches. The program is expected to begin taking claims Aug. 1.

Barra made the announcement Thursday as she released an internal investigation into the recall of 2.6 million older small cars for defective ignition switches. She didn’t immediately name the employees who were dismissed.

She called the investigation “brutally tough and deeply troubling.” It took GM more than a decade to report the deadly switch failures.

“I hate sharing this with you just as much as you hate hearing it,” Barra told employees in a town hall meeting at GM’s suburban Detroit technical center. “But I want you to hear it. I want you to remember it. I want you to never forget it.” Barra promised to “fix the failures in our system.”

Barra says attorney Anton Valukas interviewed 230 employees and reviewed 41 million documents to produce the report, which also makes recommendations to avoid future safety problems.

The crisis began in February, when GM recalled 780,000 older-model Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 small cars because of defective ignition switches. GM soon added the Saturn Ion and other small cars to the recall, which ballooned to 2.6 million cars worldwide.