GM's legal staff targeted at recall hearing

By Marcy Gordon

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, July 17 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Thursday, July 17 2014 10:27 a.m. MDT

FILE - In this June 18, 2014 file photo, General Motors CEO Mary Barra testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Barra makes her second appearance before a Senate subcommittee investigating the company's handling of a defective ignition switch in small cars on Thursday, July 17, 2014.

Cliff Owen, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — A Senate subcommittee chairwoman says General Motors should have fired its chief lawyer in the wake of a long-delayed recall of millions of small cars.

An internal report found GM attorneys signed settlements with the families of crash victims but didn't tell engineers or top executives about mounting problems with ignition switches. It also found that GM's legal staff acted without urgency.

GM says faulty ignition switches were responsible for at least 13 deaths. It took the company 11 years to recall the cars.

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri says GM's chief counsel, Michael Milliken, should be fired.

In prepared testimony, Milliken said he didn't learn about the switch issue until February and took immediate action.

Milliken, GM CEO Mary Barra and others are appearing Thursday before the subcommittee.

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