Tuesday

Is Your Car Manufacturer Driven to Safety or Merely Driving You Nuts?

There seems to have been a lot of recalls lately, which has to make you wonder if the car manufacturers are being pushed to recall cars by a concern for safety or a real fear of federal investigations and a public relations disaster.

One thing we know is that the Recall Record has been broken, with more recalls so far this year than in any single entire year since records started being kept. Good grief, are they making them that badly?

Are they being driven to safety by a desire to fix defective vehicles or or are they just driving you nuts by ignoring your lemon while admitting to millions of defective vehicles in other owners' hands?

General Motors announced another 3 million plus vehicles recalled June 16, 2014. Chrysler announced it was recalling Freightliner Cascadia trucks in June too. In June Forest River recalled their 2014 XLR travel trailers. Even BMW recalled a bunch of their motorcycles in June.

Is it just a case of summertime recall blues?

Frankly, with the huge cost of performing recalls, they don't happen for no reason at all. GM already has projected a multi-billion dollar cost for its recalls this year.

It may be that the non-GM companies are doing their recalls now simply because GM is in the news so much with its recall notices that anyone else has a good chance of not having their recalls publicized much right now. It may also be that they have learned "the GM lesson" about hiding 57 cent repairs and getting caught.
Photo from Consumer Reports

For just a few pennies more than a postage stamp, GM could have fixed those ignition switches. But General Motors decided to put the lives of their customers at serious risk and keep it a secret. And when one person sued them over the defect GM already knew existed, GM made them keep their settlement a secret and keep secret the evidence that was uncovered in their lawsuit too. So the next person who died in a GM car from the same defect? They never even knew.

GM put millions of dangerously defective cars on the road and at least 13 people died while they covered it up. Inside G.M., the nation’s largest automaker, some of the 13 victims name appeared on charts and graphs with a date and a single word: “fatal.”

GM got caught and now they are the poster child for big corporate greed that picks profits over the lives of its customers. And they would have gotten away with it entirely but for the media investigations that finally brought their secret into the light. And the Court cases that finally came to light.

For over a decade General Motors used secret agreements to hide the truth about their secret ignition switch settlements. Meanwhile more people were injured or died and far more drivers were frightened when they experienced it too but managed to live through it.

For a decade, GM made its profits and kept the truth silent with its secret settlements. And it was all perfectly legal. You can read how they abused the legal system to keep their customers from knowing about their defects - just click here. Heck, you can read about it in today's USA Today editorial too.

There's a way that maybe you can stop the next big car company from hiding the truth. There's a way that maybe you can force them to stop keeping secrets. It's a change in the law that is now pending in Congress that would stop such secret settlements as the type GM used to keep its customers from knowing about the millions of cars affected by its bad ignition switches. It's called the Sunshine in Litigation Act. But it will never become law without your help.

This bill, now pending in Congress, only requires that a Court approve any request to keep secret information "relevant to the protection of
public health or safety" before that kind of information can be kept from the public by a manufacturer who is in Court charged with selling unsafe products. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? You would not think that any sensible person would want companies to be able to hide the defects they know about. But right now they can. And unless you do something about it, the law won't change.


Companies who build safe consumer products don't need to worry about the Sunshine in Litigation Act. Companies who have secrets to hide are the ones who don't want this law passed. Them and their lobbies who pay and contribute millions of dollars to "influence" the halls of Congress.

The men and women of Congress like the donations, of course. But they also have a healthy respect for letters and emails from back home - that's where you are and that's what you can do right now.

It's easy to support the Sunshine in Litigation Act - just click here to send an email to your congressional representatives. Tell them you have a right to know the next time someone values your life at 57 cents. And you want Congress to make sure someone tells you about it.

Without your help, it will be business as usual. And remember, that was exactly what killed those 13 people.

If you've got a lemon that caused an injury, see a personal injury lawyer near you. If you've just got a lemon that you don't want to get injured by, you can call us. Getting rid of lemons is what we do. Everyday.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons everyday.