GM Ignition Switch Lawyers Keep Their Licenses
“General Motors Co.lawyers who lost their jobs over the auto maker’s ignition-switch crisis will avoid relinquishing their law licenses.
Michigan authorities in February and March denied requests from an ignition-switch victim’s father to investigate a half dozen former GM employees, according to documents The Wall Street Journal reviewed.
Jay Gass, a Tennessee retiree, asked Michigan’s Attorney Grievance Commission to launch the probes and suggested the former employees be stripped of their state law licenses, the documents show. Mr. Gass’s 27-year-old daughter died in 2014 in a car with the faulty switch after GM failed for more than a decade to recall vehicles with the safety defect, now linked to 124 deaths….
The Michigan commission, a state supreme court arm that polices lawyer misconduct, rejected his requests, saying the matters were litigated and resolved. “The tragedies that resulted from various individuals employed by General Motors are not subject to review by this agency,” a commission staffer wrote in separate letters to Mr. Gass that the Journal reviewed. The letters supported decisions not to reveal confidential client information.
A corporate lawyer’s obligation to speak up varies by state. Florida lawyers, for instance, must breach confidentiality to warn consumers at risk of death or bodily harm. But GM lawyers weren’t required to do so under Michigan’s professional conduct rules, said Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics professor at New York University’s law school.
Michigan and most other states “leave it up to the lawyer’s conscience,” Mr. Gillers said.”
Unequal justice for crash victims.