June 5, 2014 at 8:03 pm

GM faces grueling process ahead in recall

The release of General Motors Co.’s 315-page scathing internal report is only the beginning of a long, painful process.

By Aug. 1, the automaker’s outside victim compensation adviser Ken Feinberg plans to announce proposed compensation for at least the 13 people who were killed, along with others who were seriously injured in crashes of now-recalled cars.

GM also faces a series of legal battles that include more than 80 lawsuits around the country. Many of the pending lawsuits seek compensation for buying defective cars, but so far GM is opposed to offering people any compensation if they bought cars that had ignition switch problems. GM’s disclosures in the report are likely to be used by attorneys for those suing to bolster their cases.

GM has met with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about trying to convince more owners of recalled cars to get them repaired. The automaker has done some focus-group testing about what measures it might consider to prod reluctant owners to get their recalled vehicles repaired.

Congress is poring through other documents; they total more than 1 million pages in the case of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Barra — and possibly the lead attorney at Jenner & Block who oversaw the report, Anton Valukas — will testify before House and Senate committees at still-to-be-determined date.

Investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, the Securities and Exchange Commission and a group of state attorneys general are continuing and are not likely to be resolved for years.

As part of its agreement to pay a $35 million fine for delaying the recall, GM agreed to up to three years of monitoring and monthly meetings with NHTSA on safety issues. CEO Mary Barra said more recalls are likely this summer as it continues to look at outstanding safety issues.

The company still could face significant fines. Toyota Motor Corp. in March paid a $1.2 billion fine to resolve a criminal investigation by the Justice Department, more than four years after the company’s failure to recall vehicles came to light.