Friday, July 18, 2014

Senators urge Barra to fire GM’s corporate counsel.

The AP (7/18, Gordon, Durbin) reports that as a Senate subcommittee “delved deeper into GM’s mishandling of the recall of small cars with defective ignition switches,” lawmakers demanded that CEO Mary Barra fire the company’s “chief lawyer and open its compensation plan to more potential victims.” Subcommittee Chair Claire McCaskill praised 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 also put her “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 New York Times (7/18, Vlasic, Kessler, Subscription Publication, 9.79M) reports that Millikin “came under withering attack from senators” during the hearing, adding that several senators “also focused on how forthright G.M. was in its disclosures with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.” The Wall Street Journal (7/18, Bennett, Hughes, Subscription Publication, 5.89M) reports that Barra stood by Millikin amid questions from senators about how she intends to change GM’s corporate culture without firing him. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 Launches White House Petition Drive to Stop Needless Child Deaths in Hot Vehicles launched a "We the People" petition drive on the White House petition website.
The petition will urge the White House to authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to:

  • Provide funding for research and development of innovative technology to detect a child in the rear seat when a driver leaves the vehicle and a child is left alone.
  • Identify, evaluate and test new technology to accelerate implementation of the most feasible and effective solutions.
  • Require installation of technology in ALL vehicles and/or child safety seats to prevent children from being left alone in vehicles.

Please sign our petition to stop child in hot car deaths today:

Documents raise doubts about GM’s forthrightness regarding ignition switch problem.

The New York Times (7/16, A1, Ruiz, Ivory, Subscription Publication, 9.65M) reports that GM’s response to Federal authorities investigating a fatal crash of a Saturn Ion, along with “its replies to queries in other crashes obtained by The New York Times from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, casts doubt on how forthright the automaker was with regulators over a defective ignition switch that G.M. has linked to at least 13 deaths over the last decade.” The documents show that GM “repeatedly found a way not to answer the simple question from regulators of what led to a crash.” In at least three cases, the company “said that it had not assessed the cause.” In another, it said that “attorney-client privilege may have prevented it from answering.” In others, it simply said, “G.M. opts not to respond.” 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tracy Morgan Sues Walmart Over Deadly Crash in New Jersey

The comedian Tracy Morgan has filed a lawsuit against Walmart Stores in which he claims the company was partly responsible for a crash on the New Jersey Turnpike last month that seriously injured him and killed another comedian.

The lawsuit was filed on Thursday in United States District Court in New Jersey, a month after a Walmart truck slammed into the back of a luxury van carrying a group that included Mr. Morgan, 45, severely injuring several others and killing James McNair, a comedian known as Jimmy Mack.

The suit says that Walmart was negligent in the ownership and operation of its truck, which was a “substantial contributing factor” in the crash on June 7.

Prosecutors have charged the driver of the truck, Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Ga., with vehicular homicide, saying that at the time of the crash he had not slept in more than 24 hours. Mr. Roper has pleaded not guilty.

Read the entire story at Atlee Hall's website

Monday, July 14, 2014

Steering problems in 500,000 Ford cars being investigated.

The AP (7/11) reported that NHTSA is “investigating steering problems in about 500,000 Ford cars,” specifically Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, and Marauder vehicles spanning the 2004 to 2007 model years. According to the article, NHTSA believes that the cars’ “heat shield” can develop “rust, dislodge and cause the steering shaft to jam,” having already received “five complaints about the issue” and becoming aware of one injury.
        USA Today (7/11, Healey, 5.82M) reported online that the complaint NHTSA received detailed a crash in which “the steering jammed completely, causing a rollover.”

        Also reporting the news were Reuters (7/12, Singh, Raghavan), the Detroit News (7/12, Shepardson, 643K), the Wall Street Journal (7/12, Ramsey, Subscription Publication, 5.51M), Automotive News (7/11, Burke, 199K), and Edmunds (7/12, Lienert, 379K). 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

GM Defective Ignition Fund Falls Short of Full Justice

Ken Feinburg announced GM’s compensation fund on June 30. The fund set up by GM to compensate victims of its defective ignition switch falls far short of providing complete justice for the automaker’s hundreds of victims. While the American Public and all involved appreciate the hard work of the plan administrator and acknowledge the compensation fund is on the right track in two areas:
  • It will pay pre-bankruptcy matters, and
  • Feinberg intends to pay those who previously settled cases with GM before the ignition switch defect came to light.
But there are some substantive and well-founded concerns about the plan. For example, we do not believe the compensation fund is fair for the vast majority of GM’s victims. The Feinberg plan falls far short of the requirements for an adequate compensation plan. Some objections to the plan include:
  • The plan fails to address all of the vehicles that have been recalled for ignition switch defects. GM has limited the scope of eligible vehicles. Therefore, the plan – as proposed by Feinberg – would not compensate all of GM’s victims. GM is calling the shots on eligibility and appears to have tied Feinberg’s hands.
  • There are legitimate  against GM involving defective ignition switches where the air bags did deploy. Even the death of  would not be covered by the proposed plan. That is totally unacceptable.
  • The proposed plan gives Ken Feinberg unbridled control over . He would have the sole discretion to accept or reject .
  • The plan does not take into consideration the element of punitive damages, which must be factored in. GM’s conduct, based on the incompetence and gross negligence found by the Valukas investigation, deserves punishment. It is totally unfair to allow GM to escape being punished for its wrongful conduct over a period of 11 years.
  • In spite of GM’s acknowledgement that its ignition switch is defective, the plan places a greater burden on claimants to prove their cases. There is no presumption that GM’s ignition switch caused one’s injuries. Specifically, the administrator – who is paid by GM – is given the latitude to reject any and all . It is unclear from the plan how the evidence will be viewed by the administrator.
  • There are some good features of the plan: paying pre-bankruptcy , and paying those that were settled before the truth came out about GM’s covering up a known defect that had killed and injured hundreds for more than a decade.
  • Finally, this is a voluntary plan. Unless GM changes its  strategy, which is contrary to the automaker’s public  to do “right” by persons with pre-bankruptcy  and by those persons who had settled their  before GM’s ignition switch defect and cover-up came to light, this fund won’t work. It’s contrary to “doing right” to force those claimants into the Feinberg plan.
Ms. Barra has made several statements that indicate the threat of the bankruptcy court order will be used to force victims’ families into the compensation fund. That shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Judge grants preliminary approval to NFL concussion settlement.

USA Today (7/8, Mihoces, 5.82M) reports that U.S. District Judge Anita Brody yesterday “gave preliminary approval” to a settlement of the over 240 “concussion suits filed by former player[s] against the NFL” after the organization removed the cap on damages. A final approval could result in “hundreds of millions of dollars in payments over the next 65 years.” Final approval is pending a November 19th hearing. Under the proposed settlement, all retired NFL athletes would be eligible whether or not they joined the suits. A number of athletes are objecting to the proposed settlement alleging it is beneficial to the NFL and to the attorneys, but is not adequate for those who played the game.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Attorney Jaime D. Jackson Selected for List of Top Rated Lawyers in PA.

Jaime D. Jackson, a PA based lawyer has been named a top attorney in PA.

LancasterPA  The 2014 list of top rated attorneys in PA as published in the June2014 issue of Philadelphia Magazine includes Jaime D. Jackson of LancasterPA. This distinction is given to only a very small percentage of  Pennsylvania's attorneys each year.
Mr. Jackson handles complex civil litigation matters such as medical malpractice, product liability, automobile defects, crashworthiness, trucking litigation, and other catastrophic personal injury cases. Mr. Jackson has the mission of providing representation and service to those who suffered catastrophic injuries, through no fault of their own and as a result of someone else’s wrong doing, or violation of basic safety principles,” he says.
Attorneys are only considered for inclusion in the list of top rated attorneys if they have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement across 12 indicators. Lawyers cannot buy their way onto the list. The selection process, recognized as legitimate by bar associations and courts across the United States, is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. Only attorneys who can be retained by the general public are considered. Honorees are selected annually for each state and practice area.
Jaime D. Jackson commented on the recognition: "PA has so many excellent lawyers, it is an honor to be included in Philadelphia Magazine's list of top rated attorneys for 2014. I am grateful to my peers for their nomination."

To find out more or to contact attorney Jaime D. Jackson of LancasterPA please call 717-393-9596,or visit
Following the announcement of Jaime D. Jackson's selection for Philadelphia Magazine's list of top attorneys in PA, American Registry seconded the honor and added Jaime D. Jackson to The Registry™ of Business Excellence. American Registry, LLC, recognizes excellence in top businesses and professionals. For more information, search The Registry™ at
Contact Information:
Jaime D. Jackson
Phone: 717-393-9596
Email Address:

Atlee Hall has moved.  


GM victims bear burden of proof

Passage of time may complicate claims for compensation

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WASHINGTON -- General Motors has spent the past several months digging through its file cabinets and hard drives for 15 years' worth of records relating to its faulty ignition switch.
Now the burden is on accident victims and their survivors and lawyers to do their own detective work. And the trail of clues is going cold.
The victim compensation program that attorney Kenneth Feinberg outlined last week requires claimants to provide evidence that the defective switch played a role in the accident, such as the wreckage of a car, black-box data, service records or a police report.
But many of the crashes tied to the faulty ignition switch happened so long ago that those crucial records will have been lost or destroyed, meaning that potential claimants could be stymied in their effort to seek compensation -- and that the true scope and toll of the ignition mess may never be known.
"Here's the challenge," Feinberg told reporters here last week. "Unlike the 9/11 fund or the BP oil spill fund" -- which he also administered -- "many of these accidents occurred years ago. A decade ago."
This is yet another consequence of GM's long delay in recalling the switch used in small cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, which could easily be bumped out of the run position, cutting power to the airbags.
And it will present Feinberg with tough choices that will define the legacy of this case for GM by determining how much the fund costs, how long litigation lasts, how the company is treated by Congress and how many deaths and injuries are uncovered.
GM has linked 13 deaths to the defective ignition switches, as Automotive News reported in March. Victims' advocates say the final death toll could be in the hundreds.
The "official" tally that's etched into history books will emerge from a report that Feinberg said he will release once he finishes paying claims from GM's compensation fund.
But thanks to faded evidence, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, "the true death toll will never be known."
Feinberg said he consulted members of Congress, plaintiffs' lawyers and auto safety advocates in designing his program, and they sent him a clear message.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told reporters last week: "The benefit of the doubt should be given to victims. The presumption should be in their favor."
Feinberg told reporters that his team will help claimants find the documents to make their case. But what if the proof doesn't exist anymore?
For example, police have told Automotive News that records of two fatal crashes -- one from 2004 that GM has linked to the ignition switch recall and one from 2003 that may be linked -- were destroyed under department policy because of the length of time that had passed.
The paper trail
To draw from GM's compensation fund, a victim or a victim's family must demonstrate to Kenneth Feinberg that the faulty ignition switch played a role in a crash. Claimants have until Dec. 31 to come up with evidence, such as
• The wrecked car itself
• A police report on the crash
• Black-box data from a car's “event data recorder”
• Insurance company records
• Hospital records
• Crash-scene photographs
• Stalling complaints in warranty and maintenance records
• Depositions and expert witness accounts from prior court cases
Source: Feinberg Rozen
Police reports usually are held for at least five years, Ditlow said, but some jurisdictions shred them or stash them in archives after that.
Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit who has written about GM's ignition-switch defect, said: "It sounds easy: Just get documentation. Getting a police report from five years ago is sometimes easier said than done."
And dealers vary in their retention of service records, which would be relevant to Feinberg if a customer complained to a dealer about stalling before getting into a crash.
The survivors' challenge is clear to Daryl Chansuthus, whose 25-year-old daughter, Hasaya, died in a crash near Murfreesboro, Tenn., in December 2009.
Hasaya's 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS ran off the road that rainy night and collided with a tree. Her head hit the steering wheel unimpeded by an airbag, and she died of blunt force trauma.
The family sued GM a year later with a police report in hand, arguing that the airbags should have deployed but didn't. Within three months, GM had settled the case.
But for families who didn't quickly pursue legal claims, finding that sort of evidence "is going to be very difficult," Chansuthus said in an interview.
GM has put no cap on total compensation from the fund, hoping that claimants will accept cash payments and agree to drop lawsuits like the ones being filed by attorney Jere Beasley of Montgomery, Ala. Beasley said his firm has already filed four ignition switch lawsuits against GM and is about to file its fifth, in New York.
Kenneth Feinberg said his team will help claimants find documents to make their case.

Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

But, tellingly, all of Beasley's lawsuits stem from crashes in just the past two years. For each of those crashes, investigators were able to obtain black-box data. "The further you're looking backward," Beasley said, "the tougher it's going to be."
Applicants have until Dec. 31 to submit filings to Feinberg, and they retain the right to sue GM if they are unable to participate in the compensation fund or decide to decline what Feinberg offers them. They could face a higher burden of proof in court, as well as other hurdles, such as the liability shield that protects GM against claims relating to accidents before its emergence from bankruptcy in July 2009.
In the past, Feinberg has succeeded in keeping the vast majority of victims out of the legal system. Feinberg said his fund paid 97 percent of eligible victims from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and 92 percent of victims of the BP Gulf oil spill. For the Newtown, Conn., and Virginia Tech shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing, it was 100 percent.
In the case of GM, Feinberg acknowledged, "these are tough statistics to match."
Ryan Beene and Nick Bunkley contributed to this report.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

GM sales strong despite recalls.

In continuing coverage of GM’s recalls, the CBS Evening News (7/1, story 9, 1:50, Pelley, 5.08M) reports that GM “reported surprisingly strong sales,” increasing by one percent in June compared to June 2013, but noting that the month had two fewer sales days which “equated to a nine percent gain.” Jessica Caldwell of says that the news is “very counterintuitive,” and CBS notes that GM has already recalled more than 21 million vehicles this year.
        The AP (7/2) reports that GM sold over 267,000 vehicles in June, noting that sales of the Buick Encore increased by more than 82 percent in the month. The AP also reports that total auto sales were expected to have increased by one percent in the month.
        Bloomberg News (7/2, Irwin, Higgins, Clothier, 2.76M) reports that Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at, called GM “amazingly resilient,” saying that “Consumers recognize that the products GM is offering now aren’t the same as the recalled models. If you look at what’s selling, it’s the new stuff that’s doing really well.”
        The Los Angeles (CA) Times (7/2, Hirsch, 3.46M) and TIME (7/2, 24.1M) also reports on GM’s sales.
        Foxx to keep pressure on GM. The Detroit (MI) News (7/2, Shepardson, 643K) reports that Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said of GM that “We’re going to keep putting the screws on this until it gets right.” Foxx said that NHTSA “‘will take a look at the (new) recall(s)’ to see if GM completed them in a timely fashion.” The article reports that he also said “I think they are trying to get things right and go through the fire and figure it out, and hopefully, they’ll do that.” Foxx also noted that NHTSA will be investigating the “broader ignition problems in the industry” as Chrysler has also suffered problems related to faulty ignition switches.
        The Hill (7/2, Laing, 237K) reports that Foxx said that the fines issued by his department played a role in increasing GM’s recall activity. He said “The fact that you’re seeing this recall activity I think is part and parcel to the fact that we’ve issued the stiffest … penalty for lack of timeliness that we’ve ever levied.” He said that while the GM ignition switch defect should have been discovered earlier, he thinks “this was an issue of NHTSA didn’t have all the information.”
        The Washington (DC) Examiner (7/2, Bedard, 335K) reports that Foxx also said that drivers “need to follow what’s recommended with any recall activity. And if they do that we feel like they’re going to be fine. Just follow up with the manufacturer, go to the dealership, get checked up and keep it moving.” Foxx also said that he does not “have concerns about riding in the GM car that I’m riding in.”
        The AP (7/2) reports that the family of Brooke Melton, a 29-year-old killed in a crash linked to the ignition switches is attempting to get their settlement reopened following the revelations of the Valukas report.
        Yahoo! Finance (7/2, Newman, 9.7M) reports that GM’s recalls may actually increase the safety and reliability of vehicles as automakers are now “scrutinizing snafus more closely and setting more-sensitive triggers for problems that require top executives’ attention.”
        Forbes (7/1, 11.38M) reports that while Toyota’s stock plummeted by 20 percent following its 2009 and 2010 recalls, GM’s stock has increased since it began its recalls on February 13. Forbes reports that that consumers viewed Toyota’s brand as nearly “infallible,” while GM did not “possess Toyota’s reputation for benchmark quality.” Forbes also notes that Toyota’s “unintended acceleration” inspired more fear than GM’s “ignition switch recall.” 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

MOre GM recalls of the Malibu, Impala, Oldsmobile and other GM Midsize Cars

GM recalls 8.4M vehicles in 6 new campaigns

Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)
General Motors Co.’s growing recall crisis ballooned Monday as the Detroit automaker called back 8.45 million more vehicles worldwide in six new recall campaigns — including 8.2 million cars for unintended ignition key rotation linked to reports of three deaths and eight injuries.
Monday’s recalls for ignition switch issues are the latest major campaigns for related problems since February, when GM began calling back 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars linked to at least 13 deaths and 54 crashes for defective switches. The callbacks were announced the same day GM opened a victims compensation fund for crashes linked to the Cobalt recall that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
GM has now recalled 14.8 million vehicles this year for ignition switch problems — more than doubling the total on Monday — amid growing scrutiny of vehicles whose ignition keys can move out of the “on” position and cause air bags to not deploy in a crash.
“We undertook what I believe is the most comprehensive safety review in the history of our company because nothing is more important than the safety of our customers,” GM CEO Mary Barra said of the latest recalls.

GM Recalls 8.45 Million Vehicles in North...

June 30 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors, which has already called back...

GM said it will boost the amount it is setting aside to cover recall repairs to $2.5 billion in the first half of the year, up from $2 billion. Trading in GM shares was suspended on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday shortly before the recall announcement. The stock resumed trading after about a half hour and fell more than 2 percent over its prior trading. GM closed down 1 percent to $36.30, off 32 cents.
Barra said earlier in June the automaker was conducting an ongoing review of all outstanding safety issues with the goal of resolving all outstanding issues by the end of the fiscal quarter, which was Monday.
GM spokesman Alan Adler said the latest ignition switch recalls Monday and in recent days were discovered after a company-wide look at all its switches. GM began the review about 60 days ago, he said. “We looked at every ignition switch we had.”
Adler said three things are happening in the new recalls to cause switches to move: The weight of the key ring can move the key. “Jarring events” like bumps and accidents can have the same effect. A knee bumping the key fob also can shut off the ignition.
Adler said the latest recalls are the result of “key issues,” not bad switches.
He said the issue is separate from the Cobalt recall. “That was a pattern over time, a lot more injuries, fatalities, number of years of issues,” Adler said in explaining why GM is not extending the compensation plan to these vehicles for ignition problems.
GM said one new recall for unintended ignition key rotation covers 6.8 million vehicles in the United States including the 1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu; 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue; 1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero; 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am; 2000-05 Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo; and 2004-08 Pontiac Grand Prix. The fix for those cars is an insert that closes the slot in the key to a smaller hole and provides less leverage for it to be turned off.
The other recall covers about 554,000 2003-14 Cadillac CTS, 2004-06 Cadillac SRX cars in the U.S. The primary fix for those also is a key insert.
GM said the two fatal crashes occurred in 2003 and 2004 Chevrolet Impalas, but it is not clear if the key accidentally shutting off the engine led to the crash. Air bags failed to deploy in both crashes, but the automaker said there is no conclusive evidence the defect caused those crashes. Both accidents occurred at high speed — one involved two deaths after multiple impacts on a highway ramp, while the other occurred when a car hit a tree, said GM spokesman Jim Cain.
NHTSA urged owners of the cars to “use only the ignition key with nothing else on the key ring when operating the vehicle.”
Ignition switches have received increasing scrutiny from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Late Monday, Chrysler Group LLC said it would recall nearly 700,000 minivans and SUVs worldwide under pressure from the government because of reports that a driver’s knee or bumpy roads can move the ignition switch out of the “run” position, causing the vehicles to stall and disabling the air bags. NHTSA said earlier this month it was opening two investigations into 1.2 million Chrysler vehicles.
With the latest recalls, GM has called back more than 25.7 million vehicles in the United States and 29 million worldwide this year in 54 separate campaigns.
GM now has shattered the all-time record for most vehicles recalled in a single year by an automaker. Ford Motor Co. recalled 21 million vehicles in 1981, but it was only to warn them that 1970-79 model-year cars and trucks could roll away — not to make any mechanical fix.
The automaker has issued a staggering 24 separate recall campaigns in the last 25 days covering about 13.2 million vehicles worldwide. That alone would have been an all-time yearly record for GM.
And it still may be forced to recall others. The automaker still faces four pending NHTSA investigations into other safety issues, including a probe that has been pending since 2010 into 1.8 million older pickups for rusting brake lines.
“Hearing about another round of recalls is becoming like watching the National Debt clock in Times Square,” Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive, said in an email. “The count just keeps going up and up, and everyone keeps going about their business.”
Schuster said consumers currently view the GM recalls as making sure vehicles on the road are safe; he said the recalls have not materially hurt car sales or the stock. “I think this could become more of an investor issue if the charge continues to increase without an expected end date and it moves from a short-term issue to more of an ongoing one,” he said.
Earlier in June, GM recalled about 4 million cars for ignition switch problems in two separate campaigns. GM linked its recall of 3.4 million Impalas and other cars to eight crashes and six injuries. GM also recalled more than 510,000 current-generation Chevrolet Camaros for ignition switch problems linked to three crashes in which air bags failed to deploy.
GM also announced four other smaller recalls Monday, with only one resulting in an injury.
■189,000 2005-2007 Buick Rainier, Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Isuzu Ascender, Saab 9-7x, 2006 Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT, GMC Envoy XL vehicles are being recalled for the second time because of an electrical short in the driver’s door that could disable the lock and window switches, and in rare cases overheat the door control module. In August 2012, GM had opted to offer special coverage rather than a recall; but after pressure from NHTSA, the automaker agreed to the recall last year to add a protective coating, inspect the module and replace if necessary.
After fires were been reported since the initial recall — including some with completed repairs — GM will now replace the door control module in all vehicles.
■20,000 models of the 2011-14 Chevrolet Cruze, 2012-14 Chevrolet Sonic and 2013-14 Chevrolet Trax, Buick Encore and Verano are being recalled because the heater power cord may become damaged during very cold conditions. One injury has been reported, GM said.
■About 100 2014 Chevrolet Camaro and Impala and Buick Regal cars are being recalled because they may not have had a joint fastener tightened properly.
■12,000 2007-11 Chevrolet Silverado HD, GMC Sierra HD trucks with auxiliary batteries because an underhood part could melt.

From The Detroit News: