CAS Letter to General Motors CEO Mary Barra Calling for Safety Victims Trust Fund

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.


March 12, 2014
Mary T. Barra
Chief Executive Officer General Motor Company PO Box 33170
Detroit MI 48232-5170
Dear Ms Barra:
As recognized by your action of appointing an independent investigator, General Motors failure to recall the 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt1 ranks up with the Ford Pinto in the history of auto safety scandals. However the Cobalt recall ends, consumers who were killed or injured in these vehicles from when they first hit the road in 2002 (Saturn Ion) and 2004 (Chevrolet Cobalt) are double victims.
If their injury occurred before GM’s bankruptcy on July 10, 2009, then General Motors LLC (the successor to General Motors Corp.) can move to block their claim under § 2.3(a)(ix) of the Master Sales and Purchase Agreement between new General Motors and old General Motors. Even if their injuries occurred in crashes after July 10, 2009, many claims are barred by Statutes of Repose or Statutes of Limitations. By concealing the ignition key defect for at least 10 years, GM created more victims and then robbed them of their legal rights through the passage of time. Justice delayed is justice denied.
While GM has said it knows of 13 deaths in 31 crashes with injury, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The 13 deaths don’t even include Brooke Melton who died in March 2010 and whose family’s lawsuit broke the cloak of secrecy this past month. Under the Early Warning Reporting System mandated by Congress in the TREAD Act in 2000, GM reported 400 death and injury claims on Chevrolet Cobalts in 2010 alone to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). GM reported 58 death claims to NHTSA on the recalled Cobalt and Ion on defects linked to ignition key failure from 2004 to 2013. (NHTSA has no component code for ignition key and GM has reported known ignition key death claims under airbags, steering and unknown.) Only GM knows which of the death and injury claims on the Cobalt and other recalled vehicles are due to the ignition key defect. But it’s far more than 13 deaths and 18 injuries.

Read the full CAS Letter to General Motors CEO Mary Barra Calling for Safety Victims Trust Fund.