General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra, testifying before a U.S. House panel, said the company has retained Kenneth Feinberg as a consultant to explore options for families of accident victims whose vehicles are being recalled for possible ignition-switch defects.
“Mr. Feinberg is highly qualified and is very experience in the handling of matters such as this,” Barra said, according to a statement on GM’s website. “He brings expertise and objectivity to this effort and will help us evaluate the situation and recommend the best path forward.”
Feinberg is highly regarded for his handling of compensation issues related to the 9/11 terror attack, BP Plc’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Boston Marathon bombing, GM said.
The committee is looking into who is to blame for at least 13 deaths blamed on faulty ignition switches in GM cars in the last decade.
Consumer groups and representatives, including Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America and Ralph Nader, have requested that GM establish a fund for victims of its defective products.
Mary Barra told the panel that as far as she knew her predecessor as CEO, Dan Akerson, was not aware of the issue of defective ignition switches that has caused a crisis for the company.
Barra also told the House of Representatives committee hearing that she had not met with the engineering team responsible for the switch, but said they were being interviewed.
She said she was disturbed by past GM comments that the cost of replacing defective switches in some cars, that have now been recalled, was too high.
Lawmakers are seeking to establish who is to blame for GM auto-related deaths and challenged Barra over the automaker's slow response to defective ignition switches in its cars.
Information from Bloomberg, Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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