I previously wrote on the scandal at General Motors (GM) over its lethal defect in the ignition switch on various models. Now General Motors has fired 15 employees and disciplined five others after an internal investigation by attorney Anton Valukas. The move raises some interesting litigation issues going forward in the controversy with both civil and criminal elements.
I am always leery of internal investigations and the report has yet to be released. GM CEO Mary Barra described it as “extremely thorough, brutally tough, and deeply troubling.” The move to fire the workers could help on the margins in expected litigation, though GM has pushed to be protected from liability under bankruptcy laws. They may well succeed. However, if not, there is little chance of making a type of rogue employee defense with so many workers. Respondeat superior kicks in.
Given this report and the obvious gross negligence of the company, it would be a second victimization of the families of lost ones to find themselves barred from suing GM. This is likely to be of little solace for them.