Emails just released in a court case reveal General Motors ordered a half-million replacement ignition switches, nearly two months before reporting the defective switch problem to the government. The defect has been identified as a factor in 32 deaths.
Jeff Bennett broke this story for the Wall Street Journal.
The emails in question came to light in a New York court case in which GM small car owners who have sustained injuries or suffered economic losses are suing the car manufacturer.
The order came from a GM contract worker who works at Menlo World Wide Logistics. It was sent to Delphi Automotive PLC on December 18.
Bennett says the order apparently caught Delphi by surprise, due to the number of parts being ordered.
He says someone from Delphi responded to Menlo with this question:
“Is this a firm email? Is this a firm order?”
In an email back, Menlo confirmed the order.
The emails did not turn up during attorney Anton Valukas's internal investigation, which was commissioned by GM, and were never made public until now.
Bennett says the emails could very well be fodder for the lawyers currently suing GM.
GM has set up a special compensation program for people injured or killed when their air bags did not deploy. The program only applies to owners of Cobalts, HHRs, Saturn Ions, and a few other small cars no longer built by GM.
The company is arguing in court that its 2009 bankruptcy protects it from claims from accidents that happened before the bankruptcy.
But the automaker says it has both a legal and a moral responsibility to the victims due to the special circumstances of the recall, which was delayed for ten years.