An outside law firm has been hired by General Motors Co. in an effort to review the method in which the company handles litigation, according to The Wall Street Journal. The announcement was made by the general counsel of the company in testimony that was prepared for a Senate hearing on Thursday.
The statement from GM General Counsel Michael Millikin does not name the law firm that was hired, but said it will conduct a “zero-based review.”
Millikin will face questioning from U.S. lawmakers about why his lawyers settled multiple cases involving GM cars where the airbags did not deploy, but he and other senior executives at the company were not notified of those issues.
General Motors is being investigated by the Justice Department for potential criminal violations surrounding the 13 deaths linked to defective ignition switches in Saturn Ions, Chevrolet Cobalts and other compact vehicles. The switches could turn off by accident, which would cut power to the airbags in the vehicles.
Millikin is expected to testify that some of his lawyers did not do their jobs and that he was not aware of the ignition switch defect in the Cobalt until February. The company, on the other hand, has testified that employees knew of the issue at least 10 years ago and that lawyers for the company held evidence as of April 2013 that shows the cause of the airbag failure.
Former prosecutor Anton Valukas issued a report that said Millikin was not told of the issues because GM did not require approval of settlements from higher-ups unless they totaled more than $5 million.