General Motors’ Mission Statement:
“G.M. is a multinational corporation engaged in socially responsible operations, worldwide. It is dedicated to provide products and services of such quality that our customers will receive superior value…”
What “socially responsible operations” did General Motors operate for the last 13 years, Ms. Barra? These are the questions Senate panel members demand answers from GM CEO Mary Barra, due to the faulty ignition switch defect linked to at least 13 deaths. In fact, a few panel members wasted no time calling this an elaborate cover up by GM or that GM created a “culture of concealment.” There is now an enormous outcry by millions of consumers calling for GM to be accountable for these deaths linked to the deliberate and willful disregard of this faulty ignition switch.
So, what did GM fail to disclose? Supposedly, if there is too much weight on the key chain, the ignition switch can move from “run” to “accessory” causing the engine to stall and disable power to safety devices for proper air bag deployment. However, engineers independent from GM are now conducting tests that show just the driver’s key itself is enough to toggle the switch from “run” to “accessory.” And how much would it have cost to make the repairs for the defective ignition switch? Not hundreds of dollars. Not even a dollar, but 57 cents.
Changes in Michigan Tort Reform have come slow and steady, in which the first major reform came in 1973 with the introduction of No-Fault Insurance Act. The second wave of reform regarded product liability reform, which not only introduced controversial caps to physical pain and suffering, but claims against manufacturers or sellers became seriously limited. These changes were codified under MCL 600.2947, where lawmakers excused liability on the parts of manufacturers or sellers for alterations, misuses, and inadequate warnings to consumers.
These lawmakers are the same people that sit up on Capital Hill grandstanding about safety. Take Senator Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) for example, in debates over the Affordable Care Act, she was qouted as saying that one way to reduce medical costs is through “tort reform.” However, Ayotte could not resist the temptation to blast GM for its “criminal” conduct. It is this kind of hubris and shameless hypocrisy that seems to permeate our legislature. We all can agree that GM knew and concealed information that would have saved lives. However, line up behind those in favor of eliminating recovery for the victims.