Trial Lawyers Publish a Report on History of Litigation Landmarks in Auto Safety
Trial lawyers have done a lot of good over the decades for crash safety. But in my humble opinion, not nearly enough. Over the period covered by these “successes” more than 2 million Americans have died of crash injuries and about another 8 million suffered serious injuries.
Read this report and note: * Nader is mentioned but only in a footnote. * Advocates and leaders such as Joan Claybrook and Clarence Ditlow, not mentioned.
* Insurance industry contributions not mentioned.
* Contributions of scientists and engineers in industry and government such as Dr. Haddon, not mentioned.
* Engineer who identified GM switch defect, not named.
* GM Switch comparison graphic in small print on p.5 shows the force difference in the new switch was nearly doubled. But the authors describe the difference simply as 1.6 mm longer.
My plea to trial lawyers: You can, and must, do better.
GM Recalls: How GM Silenced a Whistle-Blower on Dangerous Defects
Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
Bloomberg reports: “It was close to 3 a.m. on June 6 when Courtland Kelley burst into his bedroom, startling his wife awake.General Motors (GM), Kelley’s employer for more than 30 years, had just released the results of an investigation into how a flawed ignition switch in the Chevrolet Cobalt could easily slip into the “off” position—cutting power, stalling the engine, and disabling airbags just when they’re needed most. The part has been linked to at least 13 deaths and 54 crashes…. “The “Valukas Report,” named for former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas, who assembled it at GM’s request from interviews with 230 witnesses and 41 million documents, blamed a culture of complacency for the more than decade-long delay before the company recalled millions of faulty vehicles. It described employees passing the buck and committees falling back on the “GM nod”—when everyone in a meeting agrees that something should happen, and no one actually does it. On page 93, a GM safety inspector named Steven Oakley is quoted telling investigators that he was too afraid to insist on safety concerns with the Cobalt after seeing his predecessor “pushed out of the job for doing just that.” Reading the passage, Kelley felt like he’d been punched in the gut. The predecessor Oakley was talking about was Kelley.”
See also article on GM power over the past decade athttp://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/CFCV-MonthlyReport-March2014-2%20.pdf
No Sweat — NHTSA & Takata Strike Deadly Deal Behind Closed Doors – Obama Plays Golf
Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
In today’s Washington Post, Dana Milbank notes that President Obama on Tuesday evening hosted Tiger Woods and other great golfers in the White House. “CBS News’s Mark Knoller, the unofficial statistician of presidential activities, reports that Bush played golf only 24 times while in the White House; Obama is up to 177 and now has a round-a-week habit.”
Today we read the following release from Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety.NHTSA & Takata Strike Deadly Deal Behind Closed Doors To Limit Airbag Inflator Recall “Sitting in air conditioned offices away from the sweltering humidity of Washington streets and away from the eyes of public scrutiny, NHTSA and Takata officials reached one of the strangest recall deals ever seen. They agreed Takata could limit recall of airbag inflators that explode and send shrapnel into the occupant compartment to Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and U.S. Virgin Islands. The agreement totally ignores states such as Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and others with notoriously high relative humidities not to mention Washington DC and even Portland Oregon which is higher than Hawaii. Without explanation, the agreement relies on absolute humidity for which records are scanty and no data are provided by either NHTSA or Takata. When it comes to a defect so deadly as an airbag inflator that kills like a shrapnel bomb, the public deserves more than a private nod from NHTSA to Takata just like the agency gave GM on the ignition switch defect.” Statement of Clarence Ditlow Executive Director
NHTSA NHTSA Statement on Takata Airbag Inflatorshttp://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Owners/NHTSA-statement-on-takata-air-bags – 6/23/14 PE14-016 Opening Resumehttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Takata %20Airbag%20PE14016%20Opening%20Resume.pdf – 6/11/14 Takata Letter to NHTSA ODIhttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Takata %20Letter%20to%20ODI%20-%20Regional%20Recall.pdf – 6/11/14 Manufacturer Campaigns BMW Conducts “Voluntary Limited Regional Parts Collection Campaign” 14V-348http://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Takata %20BMW%2014V348%20Part%20573.pdf – 6/19/14 Chrysler Conducts Field Action only in FL, HI, PR, and USVIhttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Takata %20Chrysler%20Field%20Action.pdf – 6/20/14 Ford Conducts Field Action only in FL, HI, PR, and USVIhttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Takata %20Ford%20Field%20Action.pdf – 6/19/14 Mazda Conducts Special Service Program in FL, HI, and PR Onlyhttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Takata %20Mazda%2014V344.pdf – 6/20/14 Nissan Conducts Field Action only in FL, HI, PR, and USVIhttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Takata %20Nissan%2014V340.pdf – 6/19/14 Toyota Conducts Campaign only in FL, HI, PR, and USVIhttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Toyota %20Takata%20Airbag%20Recall%2014V-350.pdf – 6/19/14 Honda Campaign Rightly Covers Additional Absolute Humidity States Honda Safety Improvement Campaign 14V-351 Part 573 Defect Noticehttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Takata %20Honda%2014V351%20Part%20573.pdf Honda Safety Improvement Campaign 14V-353 Part 573 Defect Noticehttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Takata %20Honda%2014V353%20Part%20573.pdf Statement by American Honda Regarding Front Airbag Inflator Market Actions http://www.honda.com/newsandviews/article.aspx?id=7804-en – 6/23/14 NEWS NY Times: Now the Air Bags Are Faulty, Toohttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/24/business/international/honda-nissan-a nd-mazda-join-recall-over-faulty-air-bags.html – 6/23/14 NY Times: Toyota Orders Big Recall Tied to Airbag Parthttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/12/automobiles/toyota-recalls-2-3-millio n-vehicles-for-air-bag-problem.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw% 2C%5B%22RI%3A5%22%2C%22RI%3A16%22%5D – 6/11/14 CAS ACTIONS “It’s Not Hot in Death Valley and It Doesn’t Snow Hard In Buffalo” – NHTSA Sings the Blues for Geographic Recall Victimshttp://www.autosafety.org/its-not-hot-death-valley-and-it-doesnt-snow-h ard-buffalo – 2003 U.S. District Court Decision on Geographic Recallshttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/GeoDistrict.pdf – 9/30/04 CAS Information Page: Don’t Be a Geographic Recall Victimhttp://www.autosafety.org/dont-be-geographic-recall-victim – 2003 TOYOTA Toyota Recall 14V-350 Part 573 Defect Noticehttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Toyota %20Takata%20Airbag%20Recall%2014V-350.pdf – 6/19/14 Toyota Recall 14V-312 Part 573 Defect Noticehttp://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Toyota %20Airbag%2014V312%20Part%20573.pdf – 6/10/14 Dealer Notice of Suspension of Recall 13V-133http://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Toyota %20Airbag%2014V312%20Suspension%20of%2013V133.pdf
What are Americans to conclude from this? Should Americans conclude as I have been saying for all the years of Obama’s presidency that NHTSA is a captive agency?
Or since more Americans have died of crash injuries since President Obama took office (and playing 177 rounds of golf), than died in the Afghanistan, Iraq, Viet Nam, and Korean wars combined should we conclude something else?
Either President Obama does not care (despite the fact that his biological father died of crash injuries), or he is a puppet of auto industry lobbyists who pull the strings.
How many more tragedies do Americans have to experience before we can make our elected officials care?
NY Times Examines Tragic Costs of Victims Injuries n GM Recall
The NY Times article also carries insights into Ken Feinberg’s task for GM as follows:
“His past work suggests that Mr. Feinberg is likely to find anyone who has been treated in the hospital for accidents they can prove involved a defective car eligible for compensation. As a first threshold, according to those familiar with Mr. Feinberg’s deliberations, anyone whose air bags deployed will not be eligible.
But the burden of proof is likely to be less onerous than what is required in a court of law. “What they will almost certainly do is set up some simple procedure run by folks in Feinberg’s office,” said Mr. Laycock, the law professor, who has followed Mr. Feinberg’s work over the years. “It will probably be a fairly objective checklist. Did you have one of these switches in your car? What are the accidents caused by ignition switch like? Was yours like that?
“The principal purpose of this type of fund is to greatly reduce litigations costs,” he explained. “They want it very simple, very inexpensive.””
NY Times Video Gives Voice to Victims of GM Crashes
Recognize that this is just a glimpse of tragedies that have been going on for more than a century.
Under Joan Claybrook, I had the privilege to participate in a small way in research on the effects on families of crash deaths and serious injuries in the late 1970s. That work was brought to an end under President Reagan’s anti regulatory programs that tried to kill airbags and did cripple NHTSA by cutting its staff by 33%. The reduction of NHTSA staff by 300 workers in the 1982 period has not been restored to this day more than 30 years and more than 1 million American crash deaths later. Seehttp://www.careforcrashvictims.com/effects-on-families.php
We can and must do better than this. But President Obama and political leaders must feel more pressure from crash victims for us all to do better at ending the nearly 100 crash deaths and hundreds more serious injuries occurring each day in America today.