An Open Letter to Ken Feinberg, settlement administrator for GM, and Mary Barra, GM CEO:
When will you accept full responsibility for those whom you are killing slowly through asbestos exposure? Why are the lives of those killed through flawed engineering more important to you than those killed through flawed choice of materials? Is it because you only care to do the right thing if it involves consumers who buy your products and not the mechanics you knowingly subjected to asbestos exposure?
GM has just recalled another 8.5 million vehicles, including more than 8 million for ignition-switch defects, and said it knew of three deaths in accidents involving the affected cars.
This boosts to about 29 million cars and trucks that GM has recalled in North America this year—a number greater than the company’s combined U.S. sales for the years 2005 through 2013, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Ken Feinberg, you explained to the media all about the GM fund you’ll oversee to compensate for deaths and injuries. You are quoted in USA Today as saying there is no limit on the amount you can award individual claims, nor on the total amount of GM’s money you can spend. “GM delegated to me full and sole discretion to decide which claims are eligible, and how much money they should get.” you said.
Why then did GM declare bankruptcy in 2009 to avoid compensating those suffering from malignant mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure from working on GM cars?
Thousands of people have developed asbestos-related illnesses as a result of GM. By 2009, the company was liable for an estimated $636 million in asbestos claims, and GM filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
Following the bankruptcy reorganization in 2009, GM’s debts were transferred to Motors Liquidation Company. This included all present and future asbestos liability claims. The Motors Liquidation Company Asbestos PI Trust officially opened on April 30, 2012 to settle any present and future asbestos lawsuits paying only pennies on the dollar.
Mary Barra, when you took the reins of GM you admirably said GM has a “civic and moral responsibility” towards those harmed. Why the double standard that embraces responsibility for those harmed by driving your cars but sidesteps responsibility for those who worked on them? As I’ve said before, the end result of both is death and bereaved families.
It’s good that GM recognizes part of its moral responsibility to some of those Americans it has and will kill and maim. But ignoring all its asbestos victims isn’t moral; it’s hypocrisy. Shame on GM. Shame on Ken and Mary.