Auto-manufacturing titan General Motors has been subjected to a veritable barrage of criticism over the past many months for what one national media publication calls its “mishandling [of] one of the worst auto safety crises in history.”
Now it’s time for U.S. Department of Justice negotiators to step up and take some vitriol from critics who are flatly incensed by the deal that the DOJ recently concluded with GM in the now infamous ignition-switch debacle that has roiled the auto industry.
It was revealed in the mutually endorsed and recently executed DOJ/GM pact that, notwithstanding purposeful GM actions that contributed directly to the deaths of at least 174 people (with other estimates positing more than that), government officials will not file criminal charges against any GM executives.
That rankles many critics, given the sordid details that have emerged regarding the sealed lips of company officials until recently concerning frightening safety-related data they were privy to for more than a decade.
The ignition-switch defect — “the switch from hell” as termed by a GM engineer — could have been fixed for less than a dollar in each instance, say prosecutors.
Instead, nothing was done for years. It was not until last year that the problem was publicly acknowledged, resulting in the recall of more than 30 million GM vehicles.
“We didn’t do our job,” stated GM head Mary Barra recently.
That type of admission rings hollow for many critics, who believe that criminal charges should be filed against select company officials.
And what especially adds to the ire of many people who oppose the settlement is the $900 million doled out by the DOJ. That amount, as noted in The Washington Post, “is a fraction of the automaker’s $156 billion in revenue last year.”
Source: The Washington Post, “Why General Motors’ $900 million fine for a deadly defect is just a slap on the wrist,” Drew Harwell, Sept. 17, 2015