GM fined $35M for breaking federal law

by: Jim Strickland Updated:

Pontiac G5 owner Cynthia Clark said a news segment on Channel 2 is what led her to question the safety of her vehicle.

General Motors will pay a record $35 million fine for breaking federal law in failing to properly notify regulators about problems with the ignition switches in millions of cars.

The fine is the direct result of an investigation by a Marietta attorney representing a local couple suing GM over a crash that killed their daughter.

"$Thirty-five million dollars is a slap on the wrist to GM, given what they did, given what they've acknowledged they did," said attorney Lance Cooper. 

Cooper represents the family of Brooke Melton, a Dallas, Georgia, nurse who died in a crash in 2010. The Meltons settled the case last year, and are now asking a Cobb County judge to set the settlement aside after GM refused to rescind it.

Cooper said evidence a GM engineer lied in testimony, prompted the family to renew a fight against the automaker.

"(With) the extent of the coverup and the perjury in their case, they want their day in court," said Cooper. 

"Are you telling me that settlement's off the table?" asked Channel 2's Jim Strickland in an exclusive interview.

"Settlement's off the table," said Cooper.

Pontiac G5 owner Cynthia Clark complains GM is still not giving all the information it could. Her recall letter said nothing of the company's pledge to provide rental cars for people who don't feel safe while awaiting repair.

"You know how I found out?  Channel 2," Clark said to Strickland. 

"What'd you do about it," asked Strickland. 

"I made a phone call and I said, 'I'll be seeing you Monday,'" said Clark of her conversation with a local dealer.

Cooper said this isn't the last recall that will be botched.

"The reality is, companies are run by human beings, and humans often cut corners in order to save money. So do I think this will ever happen again?  Yes, it will," said Cooper. 

GM put out a statement quoting CEO Mary Barra:

"We have learned a great deal from this recall. We will now focus on the goal of becoming an industry leader in safety (and) will emerge from this situation a stronger company."