WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers on Thursday demanded General Motors fire its chief lawyer and open its compensation plan to more potential victims as a Senate subcommittee delved deeper into GM’s mishandling of the recall of small cars with defective ignition switches.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who chairs the subcommittee, praised GM CEO Mary 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 McCaskill also put Barra 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 Valukas report found that GM’s legal staff acted too slowly to share details of settlements it was making in cases involving Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions where the front air bag hadn’t deployed in a crash, possibly due to a defect in the ignition switch. The lawyers didn’t alert engineers or top executives to a potential safety issue.