Date
22 January 2017
Demonstrators hold protest placards in front of the General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, on Tuesday. Photo: Bloomberg
Demonstrators hold protest placards in front of the General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, on Tuesday. Photo: Bloomberg

GM covered up faulty switches, says lawyer

General Motors Co. has been accused of conspiring with an outside law firm to cover up faulty ignition switches in millions of vehicles, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to court documents filed by Bob Hilliard, a Texas lawyer suing the Detroit auto giant in a federal court in New York, GM and law firm King & Spalding LLP committed a “crime-fraud” that exempts certain emails and other communications from attorney-client privilege legal protections, the newspaper said.

Hilliard was appointed by a federal judge to be the lead lawyer for personal injury and wrongful death cases arising from GM’s defective switch.

Hilliard, citing court cases, said in his legal brief that secrecy between lawyers and clients shouldn’t extend to communications made for the purpose of getting advice for the commission of a crime or fraud.

“The plaintiffs’ motion is largely a rehash of issues discussed publicly over a year ago and previously reported in the media,” a GM spokesman said.

“Moreover, GM already has produced to plaintiffs substantial amounts of privileged material, including many of the very communications sought in their current motion. We strongly deny the accusations in the motion and will file an appropriate response.”

GM in early 2014 recalled 2.6 million older Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars equipped with an ignition switch that can slip out of the run position, disabling safety features including air bags, power steering and power brakes.

Last year the company set up a victims compensation fund that has so far tied more than 100 deaths and more than 200 injuries to the safety problem, the report said.

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