At the height of General Motors' ignition switch fiasco last year, the company commissioned former U.S. Attorney Anton R. Valukas to review what happened. His 325-page report may have been brutal, but now lawyers suing GM say they've found new documents that contradict that report and prove the existence of a "cover-up."
The Valukas report largely blamed the defective ignition switch in millions of cars — now linked to 67 deaths as approved by GM's outside claims fund — on incompetence and a culture full of miscommunication and buck-passing. It pinned the blame on engineers, one in particular, but also absolved the company's board and executive management and said there was no intentional effort to hide the problem.
Now, lawyers planning a class-action lawsuit against GM say they've obtained previously confidential documents, including communication between executives and lawyers, that directly contradict the conclusions of the Valukas report. From CNBC:
Lance Cooper and Jere Beasley, two attorneys who have handled lawsuits involving the defective ignition switches, say a fresh round of litigation has uncovered proof that GM actively tried to cover up the problem switches.
"We believe the documents show, and the testimony that will come out that this wasn't incompetence, it was a cover-up," Cooper said.
Cooper doesn't plan on releasing documents to back up these allegations for some time. He said the evidence to support this claim will come to light when the first class action lawsuit begins in January 2016.
Automotive News reports the documents in question come from the second lawsuit filed by the family of Brooke Melton, who died in a Chevrolet Cobalt crash in 2010. The first lawsuit tied to Melton's death brought the ignition switch defect to light in the first place. GM recently settled a second wrongful death with Melton's family on confidential terms. It's not clear at the moment what those documents say.
Cooper and other attorneys say they plan on deposing top GM execs this summer for the lawsuit. One way or another, this problem won't be going away anytime soon.
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