GM Feinberg “Compensation” Program – Counts 100th Death Case

GM Feinberg “Compensation” Program – Counts 100th Death Case

May, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

On May 11, 2015, the NY Times reports latest death toll of the ignition switch defect counted by the GM Feinberg program has reached 100 deaths.

“Lawyers involved in litigation against G.M. have accused the company of deliberately understating the magnitude of switch-related deaths in congressional hearings last year.

“The success of the cover-up for over a decade leaves most of the victims unaccounted for,” said Robert Hilliard, one of the lead lawyers in a consolidated group of lawsuits against G.M. “One hundred is not even the tip of the iceberg.”….

“In the fund’s regular weekly update released on Monday, Mr. Feinberg said that more than 4,300 claims for deaths and injuries had been filed.

“Of that total, the fund has so far approved payments for 100 deaths and 184 injuries.

“There are still 37 death claims and 589 injury claims that are under review, the fund said.”….

“The switch crisis led to dozens of other recalls last year by G.M., the nation’s largest automaker, for a wide range of vehicle defects. The company has spent about $3 billion over all on the recalls, including setting aside $600 million to compensate ignition-switch victims.”


While no amount of money can “compensate” for a life lost, if each of the 100 crash victims were to receive the DOT Policy Guidance value of a statistical life of $9.1 million, it would amount to nearly $1 Billion – more than the $600 million set aside by GM for both deaths and serious injuries.  

Mr. Feinberg asked me for that DOT Policy Guidance and I provided it in June of 2014.   I also provided evidence that the number of crashes might amount to nearly 3,500 airbag non-deployment crashes using GM OnStar data published by NHTSA.  “Extrapolating 10 years of data from the 2005 GM data, there may have been nearly 3,500 frontal air bag non-deployment crashes that met the GM crash severity threshold for deployment.”  See

This is an important number because with the millions of GM vehicles that will be on the roads with this defect unfixed for many more months to come we are all in danger.   Both occupants of GM vehicles and all others are endangered because when the ignition switch turns to accessory or off positions the driver loses power, power steering, power brakes and control of the vehicle — and airbag protection.
The 3,500 number over ten years equals about one such airbag non-deployment crash per day in the U.S.A.  

I believe it is fair to say that neither NHTSA nor GM are handling this with the urgency required for protecting the American people.  Both Senator Blumenthal and Markey are right to call for a “Park It Now” safety advisory that NHTSA and GM have failed to issue so far.” See

Nearly one year later, existing victims are unlikely to receive justice, and future victims unlikely to receive safety or justice.   GM and the Obama Administration have a duty to do better than this.
Senators Markey and Blumenthal just released the following statement:



(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement on General Motors’ (GM) compensation fund’s approval of the 100th death claim related to faulty ignition switches:


“With today’s grim milestone, we now know that at least 100 people have lost their lives because GM made defective cars and lied about them and the Transportation Department failed to aggressively investigate. For years, families like the Averills in Connecticut and many others across the country were left without answers as they grieved for loved ones who died in car accidents. What caused the accident? Why did the airbags fail to deploy? All the while, GM knew, and NHTSA should have known. Sadly, we may never know the full extent of the injuries and deaths attributable to GM’s defective, deadly ignition switch. But these families deserve justice. Despite a recent ruling that GM is protected from liabilities due to a bankruptcy shield, we are committed to ensuring that justice is granted for all victims and their families.


“We will be reintroducing legislation in the coming weeks to ensure auto manufacturers provide more information to NHTSA’s Early Warning Reporting systemabout incidents involving fatalities. This information should be published by NHTSA in a publicly available, searchable and user-friendly format so that consumers and independent safety experts can evaluate potential safety defects themselves. We also propose to lift the abysmally low $35 million cap the safety agency faces when fining automakers for egregious violations of the safety act, like the GM ignition switch.”





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