McCaskill Shares Harsh Words During General Motors Hearing

By KOLR10 News

Published 07/17 2014 07:40PM

Updated 07/17 2014 10:31PM

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Gross negligence or gross incompetence?Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill had harsh words for General Motors executives Thursday.

McCaskill chaired a hearing about faulty ignition switches that have been linked to at least 13 deaths.

General Motor's (GM) CEO Mary Barra was back on Capitol Hill Thursday. The billion-dollar automaker is under the microscope after faulty ignition switches led to numerous vehicular deaths.

McCaskill led the charge that aimed directly at GM’s legal department. An investigation showed that lawyers knew about the mechanical problems years ago before the danger was finally made public.

“I do not understand how the general counsel for a litigation department that had this massive failure of responsibility,” says McCaskill. “How he would be able to continue in that important leadership role in that company."

GM's corporate counsel, Michael Milliken says he didn't know about the deadly issue until this past February and he says he was not aware of the problem because of a miscommunication within the legal department.

“We had lawyers at General Motors who did not do their jobs, didn't do what was expected of them, and those lawyers are no longer with the company,” says Milliken.

Barra defended her top lawyer, but families of the victims say all top management at GM is to blame.

“They can't just walk away, shake their heads and say they didn't know,” says one family. “They knew. They need to be held accountable."

This is not the end for General Motors. More committee hearings will take place before the senate.

General Motors has set up a fund for restitution for the victims and their families. Claims processing for that fund will open on August 1.

Barra declined to meet with the victims families, but during Thursday’s hearing she said she wanted to recognize them.

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