Delphi Automotive CEO Rodney O’Neal effectively blamed GM for the deaths related to General Motors' faulty ignition switches in a Congressional testimony Thursday, saying the company knowingly approved the faulty design.
Delphi is the company that made the bad switches for GM vehicles that have been linked to 13 deaths.
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“GM knowingly approved a final design that included less torque than the original target," O’Neal said in prepared written testimony for a Senate subcommittee examining the GM situation, Reuters reported
. "In our view, that approval established the final specification."
In verbal testimony, O’Neal told senators that his company wasn’t told about the problems until February 2014 and takes no responsibility for what happened. GM CEO Mary Barra, who testified before O’Neal, agreed with that assessment, Reuters said.
The design changes were made to the part without the part number being changed, and O’Neal testified that was a usual practice for the industry. Last year, Delphi reported 120,000 changes in engineering to parts and less than half were accompanied by part number changes, Reuters reported.
After hearing testimony on Thursday, lawmakers in the committee “demanded” that GM fire its head lawyer, Michael Milliken, and also open its compensation plan to allow more potential victims, The Associated Press reported
Although Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri offered kudos to Barra for her handling of the situation and the way she confronted both the problem and the company’s corporate culture, she also said Milliken should have been fired based on an internal report.
In a report prepared by attorney Anton Valukas, it was determined that the company’s legal staff didn’t act quickly enough to alert company officials about settlement actions in cases and that Milliken didn’t tell GM’s board or the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about possible punitive damages for the company.
“This is a either gross negligence or gross incompetence on the part of a lawyer," McCaskill said, according to the AP.
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