• Mar 12, 2014
General Motors CEO Mary Barra says the car company will... General Motors CEO Mary Barra says the car company will seek an "unvarnished" report on its role in a deepening crisis over faulty ignition switches (GM).
The Department of Justice will investigate General Motors to see whether it failed to recall more than 1.37 million defective cars in timely fashion, according to a report published by Reuters on Tuesday afternoon.

A preliminary investigation will be conducted by the department's office in Southern New York, and prosecutors will examine whether GM was criminally negligent in delaying its recall of the faulty cars for as long as ten years, according to the report.

A spokesperson with the DOJ's Southern New York office declined to confirm the investigation late Tuesday afternoon, and GM said it would not comment on the Reuters report.

Should the DOJ launch an investigation, it would be the latest one of many into the actions of the beleaguered Detroit automaker. On Monday, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee said it would launch an investigation within the next week into why it took the automaker so long to issue a recall over a defect that has caused at least 13 deaths and 31 crashes.

"Did the company or regulators miss something that could have flagged these problems sooner?" asked Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan), the chairman of the committee. "If the answer is yes, we must learn how and why this happened, and then determine whether this system of reporting and analyzing complaints that Congress created to save lives is being implemented and working as the law intended."

Following a defect with Firestone Tires that contributed to the deaths of more than 200 motorists, Upton helped author the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act that was enacted on Nov. 1, 2000.

Among other things, that legislation created the Early Warning Reporting system within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a system that safety advocates say should have alerted authorities to deadly problems far earlier. GM filed at least 51 death reports via the Early Warning Report system between 2004 and 2012, according to The Center for Auto Safety, yet no recall came.

Documents show that General Motors was aware of problems with the ignition switch in the Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5, Saturn Ion and several other models as early as 2004 – before the cars were even sold to the public. NHTSA was aware of the problem as early as 2007, according to records. But no cars were recalled until last month.

Another investigation into GM could take place in the Senate. Also Tuesday, U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) asked Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to hold hearings on GM's failure to recall affected cars in a timely fashion. McCaskill chairs the Senate's Consumer Protection Subcommittee. An aide to McCaskill told The Wall Street Journal she intends to do so.

The three potential investigations would all come on top of an investigation by NHTSA officials, who sent notice of a preliminary investigation to GM last week, in which they asked the automaker to respond to 107 detailed questions regarding the defect and its delays in recalling vehicles. Responses are due April 3.

NHTSA itself has been the subject of much scrutiny from safety advocates, who say the watchdog agency failed in its duty to notify the public of a dangerous problem in a timely fashion. And GM said Monday that it would hire outside counsel to conduct its own internal investigation.

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at peter.bigelow@teamaol.com and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.

Times Minute: G.M.'s Legal Woes


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  • 369 Comments
      • 9 Months Ago
      OK its time for the Affordable Car Act or as he calls it Obamacar. Every person over the age of 18 will be required to buy a GM car in the next 3 trs or face a $800 a year tax, the first year. rising to $3000 per yr for a family of four over the next 5 yes. Companies with fleets will be allowed to delay the inplementation of the ACA as long as they have donated to the democrate reelection campaigns both at the state and national level. And all Unions are forever exempt. Those who cant afford a GM car will of course get a subsidy to promote economic equality and car fairness.
        fred
        • 9 Months Ago
        Love your post !!!! And the people that love him continue to follow the pied piper over the cliff as the (GM) rats start jumping off the sinking ship!!
        smknnjoe
        • 9 Months Ago
        DOJ investigating gubmint motors???? Say it isn't so!!! Seems like DOJ should be investigating other entities as well,,,,IRS anyone??? Nahhhh.... that will never happen as they will be put in charge of compliance in the owneship of the Obamacar.
      fernandezarthr
      • 9 Months Ago
      ....Obama bail the Crook Car Unions not for the Benefit to the Workers or to the benefit of America!!,....NO,...He bail the Unions because, they are the Biggest Cash Contributors to the "Communist, Liberal, Democrats" at all levels during election time,.......including, and specially the Presidential campaign,.......let them go Under,.....don't support this Hypocrites, double face, Bastards,........
        • 9 Months Ago
        @fernandezarthr
        More non-union jobs were saved than union.
          Randy
          • 9 Months Ago
          Don't forget all the Asian and German auto workers the "borrowed cash for clunkers" debacle kept employed and added to.... since more than 50% of the cars "sold" were foreign label - and for the "paltry" cost to the taxpayers (and the next 5 generations of tax payers) of "only" $45,000 per "clunker" traded in.... which also ridiculously raised the cost for used parts since the debacle required the vehicles be DESTROYED and not parted out.
      jdo2887250
      • 9 Months Ago
      China Motors seems to be having a few problems, We'lll never purchase a GM product again......
      FRANK
      • 9 Months Ago
      I USE TO BE NOTHING BUT A GM GUY. NOT ANYMORE. THEY SHOULD HAVE GONE BANKRUPT DURING THE BAIL OUT FROM THE GOVERNMENT. THEN TURN AROUND AND NOT HAVE TO PAY ALL OF IT BACK. THIS IS WHAT YOU GET WITH PEOPLE WITH A LOT OF MONEY. SURE THE TOP DOGS GOT THEIR SHARE AND THE TAX PAYER PAYS THE REST OF THE BILL RIGHT ALONG WITH SLIP SHOD WORK FROM OVER PAID EMPLOYEES. GO BUY A FORD. THEY DIDN'T ASK FOR ONE PENNY. THAT COMPANY WAS SMART.
        • 9 Months Ago
        @FRANK
        Put the blame where it belongs! The workers are NOT to blame, this is a design problem and the union workers do not design the parts, they just assemble and install them.
          epalmerjr
          • 9 Months Ago
          The designers at the Chrysler plant where I worked were union.
        whizzyworm2
        • 9 Months Ago
        @FRANK
        Wow and where do you work? This SLIP SHOD WORKER and an OVER PAID EMPLOYEE works for GM. For your information I am aslo a taxpayer who along with you had to pay back the government which I believe is no longer ran by the government. Thats fine, maybe we should have gone bancrupt and that way we couldn't contribute to the the economy and take you down with us.
      Margaret Betts
      • 9 Months Ago
      Interesting they named a woman CEO just before the scandalous fiasco. Do you suppose this was intentionally planned?
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Margaret Betts
        Well, Her background is in marketing.
          Randy
          • 9 Months Ago
          Actually, her background and training are ENGINEERING and she was the engineer in charge of the vehicles in question.
        Randy
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Margaret Betts
        Do you think???? she was the "engineer in charge" of specifying that switch for GM (prior to Gubmint motors) and oversaw the demise of Pontiac and Olds.
      punnster
      • 9 Months Ago
      it seems like the union education system where they can't get rid of poor workers.
        • 9 Months Ago
        @punnster
        The parts are generally not made by the car manufacturers anymore, so whomever made the faulty part is to blame for the poor workmanship.
      • 9 Months Ago
      Today's cars have so many "mandated" options and the more complex the car there is, and more opportunity for some component failure of some part made in China. My 06 GM car may have this issue, but I haven't had any letter telling me of the recall. It has 129,000 miles on it but a new car of similar design they cost $25-29 thousand dollars and they are just not worth that much to me.
        Carolyn
        • 9 Months Ago
        I just received my letter yesterday - so yours is probably in the mail
      dexrmerritt
      • 9 Months Ago
      BHO didn't make enough money off GM now EH gets to sue them for PROFIT..if that don't beat all....
      • 9 Months Ago
      Start working from home! Great job for students, stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income... You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection... Make $90 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom and signing up... You can have your first check by the end of this week.. ................ ...................................................................... Z­­e­­eJ­­o­­b.C­­­­o­­­­­­­­­­­­­­m-----------OnlineJobs
      • 9 Months Ago
      My earlier comment was that I had previously owned a Cobalt and was fortunate that Sandy took it away. I should note that Sandy was not a joke so I apologize in advance to those who were offended. I myself was a victim of that storm and was homeless for a few months after it occurred. I actually had my Cobalt for 7 years before the storm took it away, and actually didn't have an ignition problem. I was one of the lucky ones. I've owned GM (Chevrolet) cars for almost 30 years, had very few problems with them.
      bullwinkle94a
      • 9 Months Ago
      This is and always seems to have been standard practice for GM. The most obvious example that comes to mind is how they dealt with poorly designed transmissions in the mid-80's, The first couple of years it was in production the 700R4 automatic overdrive transmission had serious design flaws,and GM ignored them and let the consumer pick up the tabs while they redesigned and fixed the problems for later transmissions. Most of the time the transmissions would take a dump shortly after the 12,000 mile warranty ended,and the owner would end up facing a $1200-1500 repair bill for something GM was aware of and that they fixed during the production run without ever admitting the flaws.
      • 9 Months Ago
      Since Obamas government bailed out GM (Government Motors), and owned GM during part of the period of the problem, will the government have to sue and penalize itself?
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