Categorized | Opinion

GM Put Profits Over People

By David PeelDavid Peel

General Motors, the behemoth of the U.S. auto industry, is recalling millions more cars to repair faulty ignition switches that they knew about and now admit have killed at least thirteen innocent people.
At this point, they are recalling more cars than they are selling.
This, you recall, is one of the “too big to fail” businesses that our tax dollars bailed out. But, the bankruptcy of “Old GM” will likely block the legal claims of many of the victimized families. This is particularly vexing as they have known about the problems since 2004–several years prior to the reorganization.
Basically, the ignition switch can be jostled out of the “run” position, due to pothole impacts, heavy key rings and the like. That causes a sudden loss of power steering, power brakes, acceleration, and—if the crash occurs—no air bag deployment.
The millions of cars being recalled is thought by many to be the direct result of attorney Lance Cooper, a solo practitioner in Georgia.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, Cooper’s depositions of GM engineers revealed the scope of the problem, and the auto engineers’ decade-long awareness of it.
Lawyers like me believe that the GM case is basically the poster-child case for why the civil-justice jury system is needed. It saves lives. It punishes corporate greed and callousness.
The government does not do enough to protect people. It cannot, by itself, and does not have the incentive to do so. But, with large contingent fees possible, a determined lawyer with a heart for justice can change everything. That is why dangerous medicines, and Pintos that catch fire on impact, are no longer sold.
A case that is indicative of the GM problem is one of a 29-year-old Georgia pediatric nurse who was driving a 2005 Chevy Cobalt that suddenly lost power, and hit an oncoming car, killing her. The black box in the car indicated that power had been cut off. A wrongful death lawsuit accusing GM of negligence in designing, testing and manufacturing such a car and of failing to adequately warn consumers.
The case settled, but not before much was discovered. Congressional hearings have followed. People at GM were fired. Apologies have been made. Recalls have been issued. Millions of cars are being repaired. Lives are being saved.
But none of those things happen without the first: The lawsuit. One grieving family and a solo attorney can still make a difference in this world.  Remember that when you hear the justice system criticized. The life saved might well have been yours.
Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

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June 2014
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