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New bill would allow penalties for hiding auto defects

Under a bill recently proposed by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Bob Casey, corporate officers who hide information about defects of company products could be targeted with criminal penalties. Under the bill, such individuals would face up to five years of imprisonment and fines. At bottom, the issue is about holding corporate officers personally responsible for their contributions to defective products which cause injury and/or death to consumers.

The bill, not surprisingly, is a response to the recent legal issues surrounding General Motors, particularly the debacle over defective ignition switches. At least 16 people died and at least 61 crashes occurred as a result of these defects. At present, GM is being targeted for criminal fraud for leading consumers astray about the ignition switch issue.

GM is not the only company the lawmakers had in mind, though, when putting the bill together. Toyota, for instance, knew about the problems behind the unexpected acceleration issue that plagued the company between 2009 and 2011.

In any case, the new bill, if passed by Congress, would not apply to GM officials, but would only apply going forward. Other bills have been introduced in response to the GM debacle. Those bills also deal with fines for executive reporting of vehicle defects.

Those who have been harmed because of a defective product have the right to hold responsible parties accountable. When a major car auto manufacturer is involved, the prospect of pursuing civil litigation can be daunting. With the help of an experienced advocate, though, a plaintiff is ensured that their case will receive the time and attention it deserves.

Source: Autonews.com, “Hide No Harm Act would fine, imprison execs who conceal product dangers,” July 16, 2014. Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, “Casey: Hide No Harm Act is in response to GM scandal,” Edward Lewis, July 16, 2014.

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