by: Jim Strickland Updated:
COBB COUNTY, Ga - An internal General Motors investigation blames incompetence and neglect for the failure to fix an ignition switch defect blamed for at least 15 deaths.
Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland was the first reporter to get an in-person interview with the local attorney who uncovered the defect. Strickland reports Marietta attorney Lance Cooper disputes conclusions made in the report.
"It's simply not true," said Cooper of one of the investigations key conclusions.
About 2.6 million cars are now under a recall triggered by findings in the case of 29-year-old Brooke Melton, who crashed in 2010 in Paulding County while driving a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. Her ignition was found turned to the accessory position. Cooper represents her parents, who want a judge to rescind their settlement deal and hold a trial.
"From start to finish, the Cobalt saga was riddled with failures,"
GM CEO Mary Barra said while listing conclusions of an internal investigation conducted by form federal prosecutor Anton Valukas.
"There was no conspiracy by anyone in the company to cover up facts, and no one made a trade-off between safety and cost," said Barra in paraphrasing the report.
That remark brought sharp reaction from Cooper.
"There was clearly not only a cover up before the Melton lawsuit was filed, but during the Melton lawsuit to keep the Melton’s from knowing all the facts," said Cooper.
"I feel that I've been lied to. Straight forward, looked me straight in the eye and lied to me," said Ken Melton during an announcement about his new lawsuit.
GM has fired engineer Ray DeGiorgio and 14 others. In the Melton case DeGiorgio testified he knew nothing about fixing the defective switch.
GM later found a work order for a redesign with DiGiorgio's signature.
GM has performed recall repairs on only a small fraction of the vehicles involved.
"We failed these customers, and we must face up to it, and we must learn from it," said Barra.
GM says it will start receiving claims in August for victims who want money from a special compensation fund.
The House Oversight Committee announced it plans a second round of hearings and will call Barra back to Washington to answer more questions about the automaker's investigation.