Judge Rebukes DOJ For Failing to Prosecute GM Executives for Faulty Ignition Switches

Judge Rebukes DOJ For Failing to Prosecute GM Executives for Faulty Ignition Switches

Judge Emmitt Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia took the opportunity in a memorandum opinion involving a deferred prosecution agreement with a company called Saena Tech Corporation to excoriate the Department of Justice for not criminally prosecuting General Motors Company executives in connection with GM’s faulty ignition switches.  “In a shocking example of potentially culpable individuals not being criminally charged, the Department of Justice announced that it had entered into a Deferred-Prosecution Agreement with General Motors Company (GM) regarding its failure to disclose a safety defect,” Judge Sullivan wrote. “Under this agreement, GM admitted that it failed to disclose a ‘potentially lethal safety defect’ and that it ‘affirmatively mislead consumers about the safety of GM cars afflicted by the defect,’ resulting in numerous deaths. Despite the fact that the reprehensible conduct of its employees resulted in the deaths of many people, the agreement merely ‘imposes on GM an independent monitor to review and assess policies, practices, and procedures relating to GM’s safety-related public statements, sharing of engineering data, and recall processes’ plus the payment of a $900 million fine. If GM abides by the terms of the agreement for three years, the government will defer prosecution and then seek to dismiss the charges.” Judge Sullivan added: “Deferred-prosecution agreements appear to be offered relatively sparingly to individuals, and instead are used proportionally more frequently to avoid the prosecution of corporations, their officers, and employees.” [10/23/15]

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