After internal probe on ignition switch recall, GM CEO fires 15

BY Ellen Rolfes  June 5, 2014 at 11:11 AM EST

General Motors CEO Mary Barra, President Dan Ammann and global product development chief Mark Reuss speak to the media about an internal probe into the ignition switch recall that led to at least 13 deaths.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced Thursday that she fired 15 people for actions involving flawed ignition switches in GM automobiles that caused at least 13 deaths.

“I realize there are no words of mine that can ease their grief and pain,” Barra said at the news conference in Warren, Mich. “I can tell you the report is extremely thorough, brutally tough and deeply troubling. For those of us who have dedicated our lives to this company, it is enormously painful to have our shortcomings laid out so vividly. I was deeply saddened and disturbed as I read the report.”

Barra said that it was incompetence or misconduct, not inaction, which led to the dismissals.

The firings were the result of an internal probe that Barra commissioned in March. Former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas led the investigation, interviewing 230 employees and reviewed 41 million documents. GM agreed to provide Congress and the National High Transportation Safety Administration with the final report as well, and Barra said that NHTSA would publish a copy for the public to view on its website.

In May, the federal government issued a record $35 million fine against General Motors for to the automakers slow response reporting faulty ignition switches.

While the company attributes 13 deaths to the switches, the AP reports that lawyers suing GM say the number is closer to 60.

Company leadership decided who would leave as a result of the probe, however Barra said that GM does not plan to make the names of the 15 employees public. More than half of those fired were at the executive level or higher.

Barra also said that the company planned to set up a compensation fund for “everyone who has lost a loved one or suffered a serious injury,” but did not disclose how much money would be disbursed.

House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chair Tim Murphy, R-Pa., announced plans to have Barra and Valukas testify before the House on the results of the report. Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee chair Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., also said she planned to call Barra and Valukas to address the Senate in a hearing.