Tuesday, October 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Senators call on GM CEO to fire top lawyer

By
From page B11 | July 18, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers on Thursday demanded General Motors fire its chief lawyer and open its compensation plan to more potential victims as a Senate subcommittee delved deeper into GM’s mishandling of the recall of small cars with defective ignition switches.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who chairs the subcommittee, praised GM CEO Mary Barra, saying she “has stepped up, and with courage and conviction has confronted the problem head on and the corporate culture that caused it.”

But McCaskill also put Barra on the spot, telling the CEO that she should have fired GM’s corporate counsel, Michael Millikin, based on the conclusions of an internal report by outside attorney Anton Valukas. Millikin sat next to Barra as she defended him as a man of “tremendously high integrity.”

The Valukas report found that GM’s legal staff acted too slowly to share details of settlements it was making in cases involving Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions where the front air bag hadn’t deployed in a crash, possibly due to a defect in the ignition switch. The lawyers didn’t alert engineers or top executives to a potential safety issue.

She also questioned why Millikin didn’t inform GM’s board or the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of the potential for punitive damages as GM settled the cases, saying, “This is a either gross negligence or gross incompetence on the part of a lawyer,” she said.

Barra said Millikin had a system in place but it failed. Some lawyers were among the 15 people the company let go based on Valukas’ report.

Millikin said he only learned about the ignition switch problems in February and acted quickly once he did. He said any potential settlement, no matter how small, must now be brought to him before any action is taken.

But Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also called for Millikin to be fired, saying that an ongoing Justice Department investigation will likely find evidence of “cover-up, concealment, deceit and even fraud” within GM’s legal team.

He also asked Millikin whether the company would make public all of the documents it gave to Valukas, whether it would unseal previous settlements and whether GM would waive the legal shield from its bankruptcy that protects it from lawsuits related to crashes that happened before July of 2009.

In all three cases, Millikin said no.

Millikin also acknowledged that the attorneys dismissed from GM received a retirement package based on the salary they would have made if they hadn’t been terminated. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., suggested that’s why the attorneys aren’t challenging their dismissal.

GM has admitted that it knew about the faulty switches for more than a decade before recalling the cars. The ignition switches can fall out of the “run” position, causing the engines to stall. It took years for GM engineers to connect the switch problem to the failure of front air bags to deploy in certain crashes.

GM recalled 2.6 million small cars beginning in February. That recall prompted an unprecedented safety review within the company, which has since issued 54 separate recalls for 29 million vehicles.

Lawmakers also questioned Rodney O’Neal, the CEO of Delphi, which made the switches for GM. The switches didn’t meet GM’s specifications when they were first used in 2001. Later, a GM engineer changed the design but didn’t change the part number, making it harder to trace the problem.

O’Neal said Delphi wasn’t informed about problems until February, and said the company bears no responsibility. Barra agreed.

O’Neal also said it’s common for changes to be made in parts without changing the part number. In 2013, he said, Delphi had about 120,000 engineering changes, and only about 40 percent of them had a part number change. In the case of the GM switch, however, Barra has previously called not changing the part number “unacceptable.”

Compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg, who is administering a plan for victims’ families, was the first to testify Thursday. The plan will begin taking claims Aug. 1.

Blumenthal asked Feinberg if the compensation plan should be expanded to cover victims of other recalls, specifically a June 30 recall of 8.2 million older large cars such as the Chevrolet Impala and Malibu with ignition key defects. In that case, the switch meets GM’s regulations but the key can pull it out of the “run” position.

Feinberg said it’s not up to him which vehicles to include.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Crime key topic again at Fairfield candidates night

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 33 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Dixon corn maze breaks own world record

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2, 1 Comment | Gallery

PAL center seeks volunteers

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

US / World

Police say they might have spotted ambush suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta dies at 82

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Yosemite proposes raising entrance, camping fees

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 3 Comments

 
CDC releases revised Ebola gear guidelines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Clinton: Midterm elections should motivate women

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
Surfer fends off shark attack with fist, board

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

WWII airman to be buried in Oakland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

 
Brown: California needs long-term vision on water

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 4 Comments

Colorado proposes edible pot ban, then retreats

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 2 Comments

 
Submarine hunt sends Cold War chill across Baltic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Oscar Pistorius to finally learn his sentence

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Youths, tech workers duel over San Francisco field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Suspect in Va. abduction charged in DC area rape

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Warming Earth heading for hottest year on record

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 4 Comments

Lacking a plan, Abbas opts for rhetoric

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Police: Indiana suspect hints at more killings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Turkey says it helps Kurdish fighters enter Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Nigeria declared Ebola-free; ‘spectacular success’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Urgent-care clinics ill-equipped to treat Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
British royal couples’ 2nd child due in April

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Opinion

Spering kept youth league going

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 10 Comments

 
Day, Blankenchip good for respective cities

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

‘Misleading’ mailer sent to residents

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
.

Entertainment

Yearwood, Santana to perform at World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Standing ovation at Met Opera despite protest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Still the Same: Bob Seger launching tour, album

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
San Francisco radio stations ban hit song ‘Royals’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Pitbull to host American Music Awards on Nov. 23

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ actor arrested in Idaho

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

NBC’s Snyderman faces credibility issues

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
Not so fast cordcutters – cable’s not going anywhere

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

TVGrid Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Local Report: Armijo boys soccer team falls to Vintage

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Steelers rally past stunned Texans 30-23

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Bumgarner against Shields in World Series opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Raiders plagued by 3rd-down defensive woes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Champion drag racer Raymond Beadle dies at 70

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Stiviano lawsuit against Shelly Sterling dismissed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

With TD mark in bag, Manning can set more records

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
49ers lose center Daniel Kilgore, needs surgery

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Giants-Royals: A capsule look at World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Belichick, Brady praise Manning on TD record

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Penn State board to meet on disputed Freeh Report

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
McIlroy to skip 2 events to focus on lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Column: Keselowski marches to his own beat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Wanted: Cities interested in hosting 2024 Olympics

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Giants rely on core of 4 relievers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Royals, fans bond over improbable postseason run

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Voynov suspended on domestic violence suspicion

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Facebook sues law firms, claims fraud

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Apple reports record 39.3 million iPhone sales

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

US regulator: Fannie, Freddie in deal with banks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Sears plans to raise more cash via rights offering

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Survey: Pay raises rarer despite strong US hiring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
US agency warns car owners to get air bags fixed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Pickles Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Baby Blues Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Frank and Ernest Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Word Sleuth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Garfield Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Beetle Bailey Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6