GM lawyers won't face Michigan ethics probe
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Michigan won’t open ethics probes against lawyers for General Motors who were fired following an internal probe into the automaker’s handling of faulty ignition-switch issues.
Michigan’s Attorney Grievance Commission refused in February and March to consider whether a half dozen lawyers should be sanctioned, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.
The lawyers lost their jobs after an internal probe found a pattern of incompetence but no intentional cover-up of ignition switch issues. Some of the fired lawyers had settled ignition-switch cases; other handled engineering and safety issues for the automaker.
Tennessee retiree Jay Gass had sought the ethics review. Gass’ daughter died in 2014 when her car, which had a defective ignition switch, crashed into a tractor trailer. In letters to Gass, the commission supported lawyers’ decisions not to reveal confidential information, according to the article.
New York University law professor Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics expert, told the Wall Street Journal that Michigan does not require corporate lawyers to reveal client confidences to warn consumers at risk of death or bodily harm. He also said lawyers weren’t likely to face discipline for failing to alert senior executives without a complaint from GM.