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tv   News Conference on General Motors Ignition Switch Recall  CSPAN  April 6, 2014 1:05pm-1:46pm EDT

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something. he is usually hired to sort out the value of people's claims and then assign money. i'm assuming that gm is hiring him to help identify the size of claims and then help spcompensa. is gm -- >> we have hired mr. feinberg to help us assessed the situation. >> there is no money involved at this point? >> we have hired him and begin working with him on friday. >> he has not been given ability to compensate vick tip. >> we are going to work with him to determine what the course of action is. >> might that include compensation? >> we haven't made a decision yet. >> we thank you for your time
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today. gm has cooperated with this investigation. let me make a couple of requests. members will have other questions for you and we hope that you respond to those within a timely manner. we also plan to conduct interviews in the recall part and may be requesting more records will you make those available to us? >> we will absolutely cooperate. >> we would like to be notified when you get your internal report and review that report as well. >> we will notify you. >> thank you very much. >> i thank you ms. barra. you will be dismissed but while this is taking place. we are going to take a five minute break to allow mr. freidman to take his seat and we will reconvene the hearing in five minutes.
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thank you. >> now a news conference with family members of people who were killed in crashes caused by general motors effective -- caused by defective ignition switches. this is about 40 minutes.
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>> good morning, we are here this morning to talk about the -- the gmof the vehicles a number of that had defective switches, which has resulted in the deaths and injury of many many people. today we have the families of many of those who were killed. we are going to introduce all of them at the end. ourlike to start off with representatives and senators. i would like to call on edward markey for massachusetts. >> thank you so much. all of you for being here today, especially the families who have traveled so far and with such heavy hearts. this is a 2007 chevy cobalt
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.gnition switch thatwas the same design showed off vehicle airbags and killed innocent victims. we now know the difference between this switch and one that would have worked properly was life or death. do you know the other difference? two dollars. that is how little this ignition repaircould have cost to , just two dollars. two dollars that could have ofed the priceless lives 18-year-old natasha weigel, 19-year-old sarah, and the others. os0o many
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that was apparently two dollars too much for general motors, two dollars are too much to ask when a saturn ion stalled in 2003 and found the ignition switch had been worn out by a heavy key ring. act whenrs too much to gm received more and more reports of cars and engines inning off by themselves 2004 with 2005, in 2006. -- chevrolet after cobalt crashes involving airbags that did not a ploy in 2007. gm's failure to act in the face of additional death, injuries, and complaints went on and on until just two months ago when it finally started to recall
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these vehicles. what is almost as enraging as gm's failure to act is the transportation department's fatal defectse from millions of car owners. in 2000 i worked with congressman henry and my other colleagues to create the early warning reporting system to deal with the firestone rollover defects that killed more than 250 people. time for the bush administration to implement our law they acquiesced to gm.
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i wrote an amendment to require automakers to automatically submit documents like accident reports into the early warning reporting system. that way consumers, safety experts, all of the department of transportation could get early warnings before a date of death passes. the bill passed without those requirements. in 2012, the automakers also opposed another requirement to make more information public that were in the senate's transportation bill. enough is enough. i call upon the automakers and transportation departments to support the bill i introduced along with richard blumenthal last week to ensure tragically
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-- automakersld require to submit the documents that first alerts them to fatal accidents involving their vehicles to a searchable early warning reporting system. two, it would require the transportation department to publish what it receives on -- on accidents and safety accidents. -- it it would update would require the department of transportation to take their databases. acquire but part -- it would require the department of transportation to identify fatal defects before claims innocent lives. this is the least we can do for the lives that have been lost in the family -- and the families
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still struggling for justice. for amy, for kelly, for michael, for joshua, we can make sure this does not happen again. for all of them we must make sure this does not happen again. do not allow the next chapter in this automobile safety tragedy to have the same ending. >> now we will have senator blumenthal of connecticut. >> thank you for your leadership over many years. not only in government but after your service there. maybe most important, thank you to the families who are sears
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today -- who are here today. it really has been an inspiration, never easy to come truth to powerak as they are doing today, to tell the stories of their loved ones who deserved better. they deserved better from gm products. richard scott bailey, a man who served his country and deserves better from it. -- we know from gm's experience that concealment can kill. session, tosiness hide a defect. not only to avoid repairing it
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but to conceal it. fromonceal its not only its customers and for many of its employees, it concealed it from the united states gainedent and thereby the justice system to obtain a complete shield of fraud and blanket immunity from liability for the lethal defects it concealed. today we have to correct that. gm can do the right thing in three specific ways. it can establish a fund to these loved ones and the innocent victims of gm's concealed defective product. that will consist of money.
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compensateer fully these loved ones for the loss of their family members. it is a start. secondly, gm ought to issue a warning that matches the severity and danger that its drivers now face behind the wheel of these defective products. it has failed to warn sufficiently that these drivers of these particular models are unsafe at any speed behind that wheel. they should be repaired right away so they can be driven. dealers are doing the right thing and are proactively reaching out to their customers, asking them to bring those models back. now gm has failed to warn sufficiently that a key that is too heavy can stop a car and
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airbags from deploying. what kind of car should be on the road? third, i: gm to back the bill that we have offered that would establish accountability and reform the system so that the effects are detected more quickly and disclosed more fairly in a database that is available to everyone. and that can guide consumers in making decisions about where and how to buy their products. we hear about a great american company. gm is an iconic great company. beir luster and brand should reclaimed and restored. gm has the power itself to do -- despite the
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business decision it made to conceal these defects, despite the harm that has been done. now is the time for gm to do the right thing on its own without prosecutions and without the compulsion of the court. do the right thing. make this brand worthy of the , the greatny employees that you have and the customers who use them. >> we're speaking with the chairman of that committee and one of the gratis conquers men to ever serve in the united states congress.
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>> thank you. we are here under tragic circumstances that the americans have been killed. later we will have the opportunity to talk to mary, the ceo of gm, and ask her how and longhe company took her so to inform the public about this defect and to recall the vehicles. vehicles they knew were hazardous. to acknowledge the families and some of those victims were joining us today, who are speaking up about their loved ones. it takes a great deal of courage to speak out about what has happened. they know they are reexperiencing the continuing pain. you've not only lost family
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members but you have lost him in an accident that might have been prevented. we begin our investigation -- we began our investigation several weeks ago. a pattern where again and again gm discovered or was told of these problems with their vehicles and the company did nothing. this morning i am releasing a new analysis of never released that gmranted claims wanted claims. jim has received warranty claims from drivers and technicians who
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experienced and identify the defects. drivers reported that their car shut off after hitting potholes at highway speeds. when they did something as simple as brushed the ignition switch with their need. comments from the vehicle owners are chilling, given what we now know. i will give some examples. these are all quotes. when dumping ignition switch area vehicles shut off. "ignition key terms often going over bumps," "key ring heavy and "vehiclet ignition," shuts off intermittently caused by bumping ignition with me while driving," "vehicle quick 70ving while driving about
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miles per hour after hitting a bump in the highway. oh gm nubuck these problems. the got these quotes -- they got knew about these problems. they got these quotes and information from the technicians. it took them more than a decade to recall the vehicles. we must find out what went wrong inside the company that allowed this to happen. we also need to make sure it is not happen again. that is why i am introducing in the house to the motor vehicle safety act of 2014. this is on the commerce committee, passed in 2010, but was never enacted into law. information onre defects available to the public. increase funding and
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civil penalties for manufacturers when companies like gm fail to comply with the law. i hope the committee will take up this legislation after today's hearing. on behalf of the families here today we must improve the law that prevents the next autosave detract -- auto safety tragedy. >> i would like to introduce diana -- she's the ranking member of the subcommittee. >> as you heard i will be leading the investigatory hearing this afternoon with congressman patty murray from pennsylvania. let the families and others who are here today who experienced this,, know that
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congress is interested and cares very deeply and wants to make sure this never happens again. i have been in congress for a while now. see one of these tragic situations, as a mother it makes my heart leap. i want to thank everyone for -- theyoday because will continue with legislation in both the house and senate, the lives that were lost will not be forgotten, and we will act. you heard for my colleagues that gm knew about these defects in the ignition systems for over 10 years and yet they did not recall these cars. they did not recall these even though they knew that the cars could turn off while going at highway speeds. i have been thinking about
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this as a mom. what i have been thinking about is driving down the highway at 60 miles per hour, hitting it on or turning slightly because your kid is in the backseat crying and suddenly your car turns off. nothing happens, your car turns off. -- whatat happens happened to many of the family standing here today. people made more of a financial commitment when they made these cars -- when they bought these cars from gm. they entrusted their cells and their loved ones to what they believed to be a safe and reliable vehicle. gm owed them that much. when i was at home in denver last week and found out this information, when i found out there were more than 2.5 million vehicles who were part of this recall, i had one message. if you own one of these recalled
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vehicles, particularly immediately and take it to your dealer and get it fixed. let my children drive this and i would not drive them myself. gm is saying if you just take key and if you take the drive with that, you will be ok. i went in my purse, i got my key. of every the keys mother in america today. these are the keys hanging from the ignition of these cars. toyou are going to say people you can't use these keys, then you need to fix it. it is not realistic to tell people they can't use their key to drive the cars. as we move forward with this investigation, our number one priority is to be safety. what we will be looking at today -- when gm knew this
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information, why they didn't tell the american public, and why the federal agency in charge of this missed that? that is what we are going to find out. i want to say to the families here, thank you for coming. i want to say to gm, you need to conquer that you need to cooperate with congress and let us know why this happened and what you'd do that what you will do to rectify the situation. -- what you will do to rectify the situation. >> we are going to have the families speak now. the first is from a new jersey that is from new jersey. -- is from new jersey. >> one of my prized possessions was my brand-new car.
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it was great on gas, played my cds at the perfect volume, and was mine, all mine. i had friends living in different states. luckily i had a trustworthy car to get me there, or so i thought. i was driving down our highway in new jersey when all of a sudden my car went from 45 miles .er hour to zero within seconds as the cars swerved to avoid crashing into me i started to cry hysterically. two men got out of their car and pushed me out to the gas station up the road. i called my mother crying. when i put it back on the car was perfectly fine. months later the same situation happen again. i was visiting my best friend in tennessee. as i was jotting down and offramp, the same exact thing happened. luckily the car behind me was very aware and swerved around me while cursing at me and then taking off. with shaking hands, a racing heart and tear filled eyes i turned the key in the ignition to see the car was good to go.
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when i returned home the mother and i -- my mother and i returned the car to the service center. i suggested to keep the car after they figured out the problem. to their amazement they said they found the problem, they informed me my key ring was slightly large and my knee hit the with a key chain of a single ignition key and one house key, a few months later the situation happened for a third time and somehow i escaped a four-car pileup. at that point in my life i was diagnosed with a heart disease and had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in me. the doctor said any stress or anxiety would cause for setting off the device and led my mother and i this car was a death trap if the game of what if or when again were not ones we were willing to play again. driving the car was like a game of resolution roulette with my safety and that of my friends. i can't explain the fear and confusion that runs through you at the moment you have no control of your car. i can't comprehend the loss
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these families behind me are going through. the hope is that the horror stops right now. i don't want any more drivers to be mourned by family and friends because an automaker hit a deadly problem. the federal government failed to take action and drivers like me were kept in the dark. i would like to close this by quoting my mother's letter to chevy general motors from years ago. she said, this is a safety recall issue if there ever was one. i should not have to list to you the safety problems that may happen such as accidents or death. as i firmly believe this car needs to be recalled, re-examined, revised, and corrected. thank you. >> next we're going to have teary debatista and lauren christen talk together. >> good afternoon. my name is jerry dibatista. we helped our daughter amber pick out her 2005 chevy cobalt
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-- ok. sure. we helped my daughter amber pick out her 2005 chevy cobalt because of its highly rated safety features. now we know g.m. is aware of the fact there were problems with the ignition switch before the car was even available to the public and that the problem would result in air bags not deploying and protecting her. i feel that g.m. needs to be held accountable to the public for the deadly and tragic consequences allowing these deadly switches to be used. i believe that it is necessary for the department of justice to conduct a criminal investigation to determine if there is culpability by g.m., who inside the company should be held responsible. it is my sincere hope there will be changes made to the law in order to prevent other families from experiencing our tragedy. it is clear that g.m. is only concerned with their bottom line and not the safety of our loved ones. >> my name is laura christian. i am the birth mother of amber
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marie rose, the first known fatality of the chevy cobalt defect. at first it was one and then we were a few. as you see, we are many. and there is still more. this is just the tip of the iceberg. we are the people left behind when a loved one got into what was supposed to be a safe car, a g.m. car, a car that g.m. knew for years was dangerous and defective. our daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, wives, and husbands are gone because they were a cost of doing business g.m. style. corporate executives made a decision that fighting the problem was cheaper and easier than fixing the problem. my mission is twofold. first to make sure that everyone who is driving one of these dangerous cars is aware of the defects. a lot of these cars have been resold and as such, a recall
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notice will not be sent to them. when i went to the website of the national highway traffic safety administration known as nhtsa, i was distraught to see the ineffective, small message about the recall that was replaced by the next message after about seven seconds. it doesn't say anything about 13 people who are known to have been killed because of this defect. the language does not convey the urgent, critical, and potentially lethal importance of this message. nhtsa must be more direct, helpful, and transparent with the public that they serve. people with these vehicles should get their cars off the road until the ignition has been repaired to protect themselves and everyone sharing the roads with them. the second part of my mission is to reform the way g.m. and other car manufacturers do business. car manufacturers cannot be permitted to continue as if there is an acceptable loss of life. now is the time for congress to act and pass legislation that
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will give the public access to life and death information, give nhtsa the enforcement tools that they need and give automakers a warning that this is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. nhtsa, which is responsible for protecting the monitoring of the american public needs more resources to get their job done. i urge congress to take immediate action to provide additional funding for nhtsa and to make the agency more transparent and informative for the public they are charged with serving. please help us protect our children and pass legislation to make sure it doesn't ever happen again. thank you. >> so now we're going to have ken reimer of wisconsin. >> thank you. >> i am here before you today as a voice of my step daughter, natasha wigele, 18, and her
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friend amy rideamaer, 15. they lost their voice, their whole life on the evening of october 24, 2006 while riding with another friend, megan concerns, in her father-in-law's 2005 chevy cobalt. what was to be a simple shopping excursion turned into a death trap as their vehicle, without any warning, lost power, steering wheel locked, power brakes no longer worked and the safety air bags were turned off. when all of this happened, the car followed a path off the road, went airborne over an adjoining driveway, crushed a phone box and tragically collided with a group of trees. miraculously, all three girls survived the initial accident and were rushed to the area's local trauma center. amy with her extensive head injuries, passed away within hours. natasha, after hours of surgery and in a coma because of her head injuries kept alive by life support held on for 11 days before being pronounced
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brain-dead, after which life support then was stopped. megan survived but to this day still suffers physical ailments and mental anguish as being the sole survivor. my wife, jane, lost everything. natasha was her only child. there will be no boyfriend troubles, no wedding day jitters, no children for natasha or grandchildren for jane, no family member to care for her as she grows older, just a forever hole in her heart for the daughter she so loved. the accident report shows the speed was not a factor, weather was not a factor, nor road conditions or traffic. the ignition system was found in the accessory position by accident investigators. none of this ever had to happen. it could have been easily addressed and corrected. four years prior to producing the cobalt, g.m. engineers were aware of a problem with the ignition switch design which could cause it to turn into the accessory position with just the weight of a key chain or
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road bump. rather than fixing the problem they chose to keep producing the cobalt with the ill-fated ignition switch and selling it to an unsuspecting public. when fixing the problem when it was discovered save these two girls' lives and the lives of many others? yes. should g.m. be able to hide behind their bankruptcy and not accept the responsibility and liability of these young lives? no. please help us in standing up for what is right. g.m. knew it was wrong. g.m. hid it during their bankruptcy proceedings. g.m. is liable for these young deaths. i urge congress to take immediate action and pass strong legislation with tough penalties so the cover-ups stop. needless death and injuries, especially when an inexpensive and easy fix was available, should not be the cost of doing business. the preventable deaths of natasha and amy will not be forgotten. stop the corporate cover-ups. congress should act now and pass legislation to stop.
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natasha and amy will not be forgotten and we must protect other families from these type f tragedies. >> these kind of statements are so hard for the victims of this terrible tragedy. i would like to very quickly first thank advocates which has been a stallworth in helping the victims get here and organize the press conference and in writing some of the materials so i'm quickly going to read the names of everybody and will you hold up your pictures when i do? you can do it all along. cara rose of white plains, maryland, ronald rose of white plains, maryland, jim rose of indian head, maryland. is a mana denti who you heard from toms river, new jersey, nancy gatos from monroe township, shannon wooten of adams, tennessee, carry shockey queensbury, new york, terry
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dibattista of conway, south carolina, lawrence christian of maryland, darryl thanthusis of nashville and dave of nashville, leo ready of scranton, pennsylvania, marilyn oronado of idaho, rosy cortenas of idaho, virginia garcia of adrian, oregon, renee toothwine of gilbert, south carolina, lindsey troutwine of framingham, massachusetts, phil troutwine of framingham, massachusetts, kim langley of phoenix, arizona, nick langley of phoenix, arizona, ken rimer of hammond, wisconsin, jane rimer of wisconsin and don igele of minnesota, randolph radabaker of baldwin, wisconsin. i'd like to introduce the department of transportation
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worst nightmare, the head of the center for safety and has done remarkable work on this issue. >> i am clarence detlo from the center for auto safety. general motors head the problem for years. nhtsa missed the obvious warning signs and people needlessly died in crashes because of defective decisionmaking at general motors. and the government. this is a complete failure of the recall system and we must change the law to reform that system. any good engineer testing these switches would realize it's too easy to change the switch from position to e on the accessory position. in fact, g.m. engineers did
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recognize this. they recommended a different switch to be put in production but g.m. management rejected that. when the switches were put in production and people started dying in crashes, g.m. engineers recommended a fix but g.m. management said no. the result then -- losses started happening and what did g.m. do? they settled the lawsuits with confidentity agreements that concealed the defect. now, nhtsa did miss this defect. and no nhtsa to say that it does not know how an advanced air bag system that it mandated works is simply an omission of incompetencey from the agency. furthermore, in 2007, nhtsa engineers recommended an investigation based on 29
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complaints, 29 crashes, 25 injuries, and four deaths. yet management did not improve an investigation. instead, management began in 2008 to open equipment queries that generated hundreds of inconsequential recalls. take an example, when vasco made an after-market sun roof, nhtsa sent pro forma printed ecall forms to the equipment installers, little shocks that simply installed one or two sun roofs. they generated 111 recalls from that alone. another case involving wheelchair lifts that were installed once again, onesies and two sies by small van
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converters generated 123 recalls. so instead of opening an investigation into the ignition switch where people died in unknown numbers and the toll is only going to rise, nhtsa initiated investigations into after-market sun roof installers where there was not one known person killed. that's a failure of the recall system and recall on congress -- we call on congress to amend the law to change that recall system because we cannot afford another ignition switch. we said this years ago in ford explorer. we said it again in toyota. there has been a failure of the recall system in this country and only changing the law will change that system and save lives. thank you. >> thank you very much, everybody. if any of the families want to
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be interviewed, you can either interview them here as -- after we finish or you can talk to beth weaver whose telephone number is 301-814-4088. she is trying to handle the ress for us on all of this, or beth underscore thank everybody for coming. we're intent to get legislation passed so this doesn't happen again. i believe there needs to be criminal penalties in this statute so the failure to do a recall is on a knowing and willful basis is a criminal violation and that any executive who is responsible for that could go to jail. and i think until the corporations know that they can go to jail if they harm people, this issue will never be fully resolved. but we do need other legislations as well on transparency and openness and fixing


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