Another day, another senate hearing into the General Motors ignition switch recall. Today, two new people were grilled by the committee about their knowledge in this mess.
First up was Michael Millikin, GM's General Counsel. Millikin testified that he didn't know about the issue till February of this year. He also testified that lawyers working for GM during April 2013 had information pertaining to this from a case they were working on. However, they failed to notify engineers about the problem.
"That was tragic. If they had brought it to my attention at that time, I certainly would have made sure that they had done something," Millikin said.
Lower-level lawyers were among those fifteen people who let go a couple months ago.
However, many of the senators were wondering why Millikin was still employed with the company.
"I do not understand how the General Counsel for a litigation department that had this massive failure of responsibility, how he would be allowed to continue in that important leadership role in this company," said Senator Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of the Senate Commerce subcommittee.
The senators said Millikin should be held responsible for the actions of the lower-level lawyers.
“My view is the team has to change,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.
Millikin testified that the company has brought in an outside law firm to review the litigation department.
Also testifying today was Delphi CEO Rodney O'Neal. Delphi was the company who manufactured the switches and was being called in to explain their role in the recall. O'Neal testified that the company followed the specifications given by GM when making the switch. That included the low resistance turn because GM wanted it to turn smoothly.
"GM knowingly approved a final design that included less torque than the original target. In our view, that approval established the final specification," said O'Neal.
GM CEO Mary Barra who was at the hearing said that it was GM's fault for the design of the part, not Delphi.