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Behind The Mic With Joe Mathieu: GM Lawsuits Could Go Nowhere

By Joe Mathieu, WBZ NewsRadio 1030
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BOSTON (CBS) – The story of General Motors and the defective ignition switches will be told in crisis management classes for years to come.

We’re just not sure how this chapter is going to end.

This is serious business. People died. The company was at fault. And GM is now being investigated by both houses of Congress, a federal prosecutor and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The company’s new CEO, Mary Barra, got pretty good reviews in her first day of testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday. But most of the positive press surrounding her was largely for what she did outside of the hearing room, having met in advance with victims’ families.

Barra apologized in person.

She is back for a second round of testimony Wednesday.

But, of course, families who lost loved ones and others who got into accidents or were put at risk because of negligence are looking for a lot more than apologies.

Many are filing lawsuits against General Motors.

And this is where things get complicated.

GM’s bankruptcy protects it from many of those suits – the company is technically a new one since emerging from Chapter 11 and it is not obligated to compensate the victims’ families, even though it had already settled with some of them individually.

Reuters reports that some of those settlements could be overturned.

That’s why the most interesting piece of information to come from the hearing was the fact that GM hired Kenneth Feinberg, the man who handled victims’ funds for the Boston Marathon bombings, the BP oil spill and the 911 terrorist attacks.

He will be looking into what GM can do and should do for the families.

Follow Joe on Twitter @joemathieuwbz

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