GM Ignition Switch Defect May Have Caused 'Up To 100 Deaths': Diana DeGette

GM CEO
General Motors CEO Mary Barra listens to opening remarks prior to her testimony before a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on the GM ignition switch recall on Capitol Hill in Washington June 18, 2014. A new lawsuit says General Motors Co should compensate millions of car and truck owners for lost resale value, potentially exceeding $10 billion, because a slew of recalls and its deadly delay in recalling cars with defective ignition switches has damaged its brand.

The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee that is grilling General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) CEO Mary Barra on the ignition switch recall raised the possibility that as many as to 100 deaths can be attributed to the defect, while GM has so far acknowledged only 13.

While asking Barra about who will be eligible for liability claims related to the defect that led to a massive recall of Chevy Cobalts and Saturn Ions, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., said at the Wednesday hearing that it’s possible there may be “up to 100 deaths” related to the faulty ignition switch, without providing a source for that figure. Two weeks ago, a Reuters investigation found that at least 74 deaths could be attributed to similar ignition switch defects. Barra didn’t directly address that figure, but she said GM is setting up a compensation program “in lieu of lawsuits” from victims. 

DeGette is the ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, which is holding hearings Wednesday into the defect, which GM said contributed to 13 deaths and 53 accidents. GM’s count does not include passengers who died in the back seats of vehicles that had the defect. 

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