Last week, NHTSA and GM announced an agreement to resolve recall timeliness claims related to GM’s massive Ignition Switch recall. In addition to the widely-reported $35 million civil penalty GM has agreed to pay (the maximum under the Safety Act), GM has agreed to various behavioral changes, reporting requirements and other commitments related both to the current recall and to how GM handles potential safety issues in the future. A copy of the agreement is available on NHTSA’s website.
Here are the key points of the agreement:
Documentation Related to NHTSA’s Ongoing Investigation:
Provisions Related to Implementation of the Ignition Switch Recall:
Policies and Practices Related to Future Safety Defect Analysis and Decision-Making:
If GM’s revised policies and practices are made available to the public, they could serve as a “gold standard” to be followed by all manufacturers (due to NHTSA’s review and input as contemplated under the settlement). In the meantime, all manufacturers should undertake a comprehensive review of their safety-defect evaluation policies and procedures to ensure they are current and are well understood and followed by company employees. As part of that process, manufacturers should consider implementing key concepts from the GM settlement: conducting thorough employee training (including encouraging full and frank discussion of potential safety issues), improving cross-functional and cross-discipline information sharing, streamlining safety review processes, ensuring that safety defect decisions are not delayed pending a determination of the precise cause or a determination of a remedy, and improving data analytics.