[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) released the following statement today after the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a bankruptcy judge’s ruling that would have protected General Motors (GM) from lawsuits brought by victims of GM’s defective ignition switches:
“Today’s decision reaffirms the deeply troubling truth that we have long suspected: GM knew about a lethal safety defect their vehicles and deliberately concealed it during bankruptcy proceedings while under oath. Consumers injured in crashes caused by faulty ignition switches deserve to have their day in court, regardless of whether they were harmed under new or old GM. This decision reopens the courthouse doors to victims and strengthens our conviction that those responsible for covering up this defect and risking consumer lives must be held accountable.”
In the wake of the GM ignition switch scandal, Blumenthal and Markey introduced the Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act, legislation that would require NHTSA to make information it receives from auto manufacturers publicly available in a searchable, user-friendly format so that consumers and independent safety experts can personally evaluate potential safety defects.
The Senators also expressed concern about the efficacy of NHTSA’s regional recall system and EWR program after Honda Motor Company failed to report accidents caused by a now-confirmed airbag safety defect and urged NHTSA to ensure that all manufacturers were complying with the systems. They additionally wrote to NHTSA urging NHTSA to promulgate rules to increase early warning reporting requirements for automakers in order to make more potentially life-saving information available to NHTSA and the public.
Blumenthal and Markey also introduced the Automaker Accountability Act, a bill that would eliminate the cap on the maximum allowable civil fine the Department of Transportation (DOT) can levy on automakers for safety violations or failure to report known defects.