2014-06-09

Shades of Enron: the Legal Ethics Implications of the General Motors Scandal

"Where were the Lawyers?" is becoming a predicable refrain in response to any wide-ranging corporate scandal. General Motors is battling a rising deluge of lawsuits, investigations, and government fines in the wake of its February 2014 recall of millions of cars for a safety defect. The defect, a faulty ignition switch, is allegedly responsible for 13 fatalities and hundreds of injuries. The sorrow of the tragic loss of life in this case is now joined by growing public anger about a cover-up at the company to avoid liability for the defect. GM's engineers and managers may have known of the problem as early as 2004, and OM's in-house lawyers apparently knew about the defect in 2013 or earlier. The facts are still developing in this story, and the release of an internal investigation report last week directed by Anton Valukas answered significant questions. The actions of OM's lawyers clearly raise significant legal ethics ramifications.

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