General Motors is conducting internal reviews and has added more safety investigators

GM announces new recalls as it continues to defend against earlier class-action lawsuits

General Motors – already facing class action lawsuits in connection with the recall of millions of cars for defective ignition switches – has announced a new series of recalls.

In the latest recalls, close to 2.7 million GM vehicles were affected, with the total for the year now reaching 11.2 million for just the United States, according to The New York Times. The total number of recalled vehicles this year, so far, worldwide, for GM is 12.8 million – with Thursday’s recalls being 2.99 million of that total.

In a company statement released to InsideCounsel, Jeff Boyer, GM’s vice president of global vehicle safety, said, "We have redoubled our efforts to expedite and resolve current reviews in process and also have identified and analyzed recent vehicle issues which require action."

The new recalls relates to five different safety concerns, news reports said. They include taillight issues, steering problems, and concerns with wiring, electronic stability control, windshield wipers and brakes.

Among the recalled vehicles are some models of the Chevrolet Malibu and Corvette, the Pontiac G6, the Saturn Aura, Cadillac CTS sedans and some pick-up trucks.

The recalls come after reports that some of the safety issues were associated with accidents, according to news reports. There were injuries during the accidents, but no fatalities, the reports add.

GM announced the recalls “based on data gathered through additional investigation and field evaluation process,” Alan Adler, a GM official, said in an e-mail sent to The Times.

The earlier recall of vehicles with defective ignition switches was associated with 13 deaths, and led to several class-action lawsuits. GM has undertaken an internal review in response to the company’s handling of the defective ignition switches. It is being led by Anton Valukas and GM General Counsel Michael Millikin, Bloomberg reported. In addition, lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who is a specialist in compensation, has also been retained by GM. The company also hired Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, the New York law firm, to provide advice, Reuters reported.

There have been some internal changes at the company, as well, with Boyer’s unit getting 35 more safety investigators. The company placed two engineers on paid leave, Bloomberg reported, and one company spokesman, Selim Bingol, appears to have resigned.

It appears too that the new recalls cannot help GM much in its efforts to defend against the pending class action lawsuits on the defective ignition switches. Among the issues trying to be worked out is whether New GM, which emerged after bankruptcy proceedings, is liable for costs occurring before Chapter 11. Old GM has little in the way of assets, now. A case is pending before Bankruptcy Court in New York City related to economic loss associated with the defective ignition switches.

Another concern for the company is damage to the brand’s reputation.

"The volume and steady drip of recalls at GM are certainly taking their toll on the brand. In the eyes of many, the 'new GM' is looking like the old GM — poor quality," Daniel Hill, president of Ervin-Hill Strategy, a public relations firm, was quoted by USA Today.

In a related matter, GM will be paying a fine of $35 million and will change its approach to auto safety under a consent decree that was to be announced by the Department of Transportation on May 16. It relates to the defective ignition system issue and the company's delay in reporting it to the government.

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Ed Silverstein

Ed Silverstein is a veteran writer and editor for magazines, websites and newspapers. A graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, he has won several...

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