In-House Counsel

6 attorneys fired by GM after law firm ignition-switch probe are reportedly identified


A total of six in-house lawyers were fired by General Motors following an investigation by an outside law firm of the automaker’s handling of ignition-switch issues over the past decade, reports Reuters, and the news agency says it has identified them, based on information from unnamed sources.

The company’s general counsel is still on board, but GM axed its former North American general counsel, Michael Robinson, later named as vice president for environmental, sustainability and regulatory affairs. Jaclyn Palmer and Ronald Porter, who settled cases involving Chevrolet Cobalts, also were fired, as well as at least two other lawyers who attended a January 2011 meeting at which Palmer discussed a theory that airbag nondeployment could be linked to an ignition-switch issue, Reuters says.

An earlier Reuters story, also relying on unidentified sources, said those fired included as well Lawrence Buonomo, who was in charge of product litigation in the legal department; senior attorney William Kemp, who handled engineering and safety issues; and attorney Jennifer Sevigny, who was in charge of the company’s field product assessment group.

None of the six commented for the stories, and the news agency said they either could not be reached for comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

The 325-page report (PDF) detailing the findings of an internal investigation into GM’s handling of the ignition switch recall by Anton Valukas of Jenner & Block was made available by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “GM cites ‘pattern of incompetence,’ fires 15 including legal execs, will pay ignition-switch victims”

Updated June 11 to provide a direct link to the report.

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