November 21, 2014
The New York Times reports in an article published November 11th that emails, discovered in “four million documents contained in a depository set up for discovery in federal multi-district litigation against the automaker,” show that G.M. placed an urgent order for 500,000 replacement switches months before it notified the government about the recall. The initial email from G.M. was sent on December 18th, 2013 which, according to the Times, was “a day after a crucial committee met to discuss the switch issue but declined to order a recall.”
The first email from G.M. to Delphi, the supplier of the part, was sent the 18th at 3:16pm, apparently following a voicemail, and requested “a build and ship plan for a large volume of this part to support an urgent Field Action for our customers.” The following day a follow up email was sent with a modified subject line including the words “FIELD ACTION **URGENT**.” Delphi responded noting that they had only provided G.M. with 11,445 pieces in the last year, and requested a timeline for the 500,000 parts described by Delphi as “a huge increase in production.” G.M. responded saying they “would need to start seeing shipments ASAP.”
According to the Times, G.M. has “recalled 2.6 million cars for the defective switch, beginning in early February, and has acknowledged that some engineers and others in the company knew of the flaw for more than a decade.” These emails would simply serve as evidence that the company knew about the problem, and even prepared to fix the problem, months before the cars were officially recalled. It also brings into question the credibility of Mary T. Barra, who became G.M.’s CEO in January. She has said that “she did not learn of the ignition-switch defect until a committee decided that month to recall the cars.” However, in an AP article published November 11th, Robert Hillard, a Texas personal injury attorney, noted that it seemed unlikely that the CEO would not have known about the purchase of the 500,000 new switches which would have come at an unbudgeted cost of about $3 million dollars. However, the AP article also states, “G.M. says it is standard procedure to start ordering parts before a recall decision is made.”
In the end, these emails add yet another wrinkle in the already complicated G.M. recall case. But, at least 32 deaths have already occurred due to the ignition switch problem. G.M. could have potentially saved some of these lives by announcing concerns about the ignition switch when it placed the order for replacements. Robert Hillard, in the AP article notes that “For his clients alone, a warning (as soon as G.M. knew about the problem) could have prevented one death and 85 injuries.”
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an ignition switch problem with your G.M. vehicle, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced car accident attorney at Hensley Legal Group. We have the experience you deserve, and can handle the big insurance companies so you can focus on recovering. Contact us anytime 24/7 at 1-888-436-7539, or reach us via the web and fill out the ‘Get Help Now’ box. We work on a contingency fee basis and never collect money from you unless we help you collect a settlement. Contact us today to see if hiring an attorney would be beneficial to you and your situation.