General Motors CEO Mary Barra last week said the company has retained Kenneth Feinberg as a consultant to explore and evaluate options in its response to families of accident victims whose vehicles are being recalled for possible ignition switch defects.
Barra made the announcement last week in testimony before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Thirteen deaths have been linked to the ignition switch defect.
“Mr. Feinberg is highly qualified, and is very experienced in the handling of matters such as this,” Barra said. “He brings expertise and objectivity to this effort, and will help us evaluate the situation and recommend the best path forward.”
Feinberg has handled compensation issues related to 9/11, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Boston Marathon bombing.
“My mandate from the company is to consider the options for dealing with issues surrounding the ignition switch matter, and to do so in an independent, balanced and objective manner based upon my prior experience,” Feinberg said.
In her appearance before the committee, Barra also detailed the company’s overall response to what she called “an extraordinary situation.”
“Our employees and I are determined to set a new standard,” Barra said. “Our customers and their safety are at the center of everything we do.”
She outlined measures the company has taken to address the ignition switch recall:
- Commissioned two and asked for a third production line from supplier Delphi for new parts, which will begin flowing to dealers on schedule this week
- Enhanced customer call center staffing to limit wait times
- Providing loaner and rental vehicles to customers who drive one of the recalled vehicles
- Retained former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas to lead an internal investigation
- Appointed Jeff Boyer as new vice president for global vehicle safety whose first priority is to quickly identify and resolve product safety and customer satisfaction issues.
Barra reiterated her sympathies “to everyone who has been affected by this recall” and promised “to hold ourselves accountable” once all the facts are known.