GM's End Run Starts to Falter

Opponents of Chrysler and General Motors’ bid to play the get-out-of-liability-free card scored a partial victory Friday. GM agreed to amend the terms of its bankruptcy to assume liability for future death and injury claims. The deal was reportedly hammered out late Friday between the Treasury’s auto task force, GM and more than a dozen states attorneys general.

Why the Problems Won’t Go Away When the Old Chrysler and GM Do

About 3,400 individuals will die or be injured in a General Motors or Chrysler vehicle due to an automotive defect in the companies’ first year post-bankruptcy, according to a new analysis conducted by Safety Research & Strategies

SRS has released its report, Public Safety at Risk: Bankruptcies Leave Legacy of Defects, Injuries and Deaths as part of its ongoing efforts to highlight the plight of the victims of the Chrysler and GM bankruptcies. Under the terms of each automaker’s transition from their old, debt-burdened incarnations to their liability-free future entities, hundreds of pending death and injury claims will be eliminated. But the latent – and in some cases, well-known, but never resolved – automotive defects will continue to manifest themselves in the 40 million GM and Chrysler vehicles built before Chapter 11, which remain in the U.S. fleet.

States Attorneys General File Objections to GM Bankruptcies

The states have begun to clamor for their rights in the dissolution of the old General Motors, filing a joint objection to the bankruptcy provision allowing the automaker to eliminate tort claims.

Following the path set by the Chrysler bankruptcy and sale to Fiat, GM has sought protection from liability claims for deaths and injuries that occur in vehicles manufactured before the bankruptcy. Eight states attorneys general, from Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Vermont filed an objection with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York on Friday. Illinois, California, Kansas and Ohio have joined the objections.

Senate Commerce Committee Press GM and Chrysler

A bipartisan coalition of the 20 U.S. Senators comprising the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has written to Chrysler and General Motors urging the ailing automakers to back off of some of the more Darwinian features of their bankruptcies. Separate, but essentially identical, letters to James Press of Chrysler LLC and GM CEO Fritz Henderson raised questions about the fates of terminated dealerships and the technicians trained specifically to service their products. The letters also defended consumers, demanding answers to the companies' provisions for providing access to rural customers and to their planned walk-away from the victims of defects.

Brass Ones

Government Motors - I mean - General Motors is doubling down on 363. That's the magical section of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy code that allows filers to keep the good stuff and discard all the ick - one of the key pieces being liability for harm caused by defective products.

Kane Calls Assembly Vote on California Tire Age an Important First Step

SRS President Sean E. Kane hailed the California state assembly vote yesterday on AB496 Tire Disclosure Age bill, which cleared the state assembly, 48-21. The bill requires retail tire dealers to disclose the age of a tire to consumers in writing before the sale or installation of a tire.  Along with the tire age, dealers must provide the following statement about the increased hazards of aged tires:

Surrender Dorothy!

The California Tire Age bill passed the state assembly yesterday 48-21 and that loud pop you may have heard was the sound of the Rubber Manufacturer's Association's head exploding.

While it wasn't as good as a rant as one from the Tire Industry Associations' Roy Littlefield, the immediate response from the tiremakers trade group wasn't far off (RMA Press Release). Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president of public affairs, panted about the bill's proponents using "fear-mongering to allege that tires reaching a certain chronological age are dangerous."

Kicked Off the Rope Line?

The American Association for Justice and consumer advocates are planning a full court press at today's hearing before the full House Judiciary Committee on the Chrysler bankruptcy proposal. The groups are fighting to change one of the more egregious provisions. Under the terms that the federal government is advocating, the new and improved post-bankruptcy Chrysler would leave all those pesky plaintiffs and vehicle owners seeking compensation for the manufacturers' defective products in the rear-view mirror. The company would honor warranties and be responsible for recalls, but anyone injured before the bankruptcy would be yanked out of the line of debtors.

You Like Me. You Really Like Me.

Bob Ulrich delivered a bouquet of compliments to Sean Kane in Modern Tire Dealer's latest edition. Entitled, "Sean Kane's Passion Trump's the Industry's Inaction," Ulrich opines that Kane has been an amiable and effective, if misguided, advocate for tire aging. It opens thus:

"I like Sean Kane. Over the phone he comes across as a likeable guy with an admirable agenda: He wants to improve the tire purchasing experience for consumers."

Safety Research & Strategies Raises Tire Age Profile in California; Tire Aging Consumer Disclosure Bill Clears Committee

SACRAMENTO, CA - One of the nation's first laws to require tire dealers to disclose the age of each tire prior to sale or installation cleared an important hurdle Tuesday, when the California state legislature's Assembly Business and Professions committee passed it by a vote of 6 to 4.



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