Text Us Now for a Free Case Evaluation
42 Years - A Professional Law Corporation - Helping Asbestos Victims Since 1974

Motors Liquidation Company

GM Responds to Ignition Switch Glitches but Not to Asbestos Exposure

asbestos exposureAn 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.

General Motors, Source of Thousands of Asbestos Claims, In the Hot Seat Again

asbestos claimsGeneral Motors, a company responsible for many asbestos claims, is in the news again. And unfortunately, once again it is bad news. This time the issue is about a faulty ignition switch that has caused car crashes and deaths and the matter has become one for Congressional hearings.

But only several years ago, it was asbestos claims that were putting GM on the hot seat. This once successful American car company had been named in thousands of asbestos injury lawsuits because it produced and bought parts for its cars that contained asbestos.

The majority of asbestos claims filed against GM stemmed from of asbestos-containing brake linings and clutch facings. People who worked as auto mechanics developed mesothelioma because they had been exposed to asbestos while grinding, repairing and removing friction products such as brakes and clutches.

Thousands of people developed asbestos-related illnesses as a result of GM. By 2009, the company was liable for an estimated $636 million in asbestos claims, and the already struggling automaker 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.

GM’s new CEO Mary Barra emphasized in her Congressional testimony that the “new GM” is not the “old GM”. But in a statement seized upon by the media, she conceded that the new GM has a “civic and moral responsibility” towards those harmed, even if it shed some legal responsibility in the bankruptcy.

Does this extend to their asbestos victims? It should. Why is a flawed switch different from a flawed brake? The end result of both is death and bereaved families.

GM escaped all liability for asbestos claims for its older cars and prior acts in the bankruptcy though it did keep a bit of liability for ‘normal’ car defects that could cause accidents. Kudos to the new CEO for recognizing the company’s moral responsibilities. We hope that extends to those who serviced GM cars for decades and died of mesothelioma or brought mesothelioma home to their wives and kids who got sick and died.

We hope she meant what she said but only time will tell.

Get a Free Case Evaluation