GM Resists Effort To Extend Deadline For Ignition Compensation Claims

The Wall Street Journal (1/29, Bennett, Subscription Publication, 5.67M) is reporting that General Motors has rejected a request from Sens. Edward Markey (D) and Richard Blumenthal (D) to extend the claims deadline for their ignition switch compensation fund. In response GM said, “Our goal is to be just and timely in compensating the families who lost loved ones and those who suffered physical injury. We have conducted extensive outreach about the program. We previously extended the deadline until January 31, and we do not plan another extension.”

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Another Example of VA Neglect

The Los Angeles Times (1/28, Holland, 3.49M) is reporting that the U.S. government “has agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing the Department of Veterans Affairs of misusing its sprawling West Los Angeles health campus while veterans with brain injuries and mental impairment slept in the streets, people familiar with the agreement said Tuesday.” The settlement will require the VA “will develop a master land-use plan for the campus that identifies sites for housing homeless veterans.” The ACLU of Southern California brought the lawsuit contending “that the VA should develop housing for veterans on the 387-acre campus.” The ACLU of Southern California “accused the agency of illegally leasing land to UCLA for its baseball stadium, a television studio for set storage, a hotel laundry and a parking service.” In 2013 a Federal Judge “struck down the leases, saying they were ‘totally divorced from the provision of healthcare.’” More recently, US District Judge S. James Otero “halted construction of an amphitheater on the property.”

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GM Faulty Ignition Switch Death Claims Rise To 50

The AP (1/26, Krisher) is reporting that “with only five days left before the deadline to seek payments, compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg has decided that 50 death cases are eligible for money due to crashes caused by faulty General Motors ignition switches.” Seventy-five injuries have also been declared eligible in details released on Monday by Feinberg, who General Motors hired to oversee the claims. The GM fund “has received 338 death claims and 2,730 claims for injuries,” according to the AP. “Of those, 58 death claims have been rejected as ineligible for compensation, as have 328 injury claims. Feinberg is either reviewing or awaiting documentation on 230 additional death claims and 2,327 injury cases.”
According to Bloomberg News (1/26, Sandler, 2.94M) the 50 death claims ruled as eligible on Monday are four times larger than GM’s initial estimate. Bloomberg reports that Feinberg said his findings relied on circumstantial evidence. “GM engineers were looking for definitive proof of ignition switch failure,” Feinberg said, “So of course there will be a greater number of eligible death claims.” The story was also reported by Reuters (1/26), Auto World News (1/26, Ecarma, 1K), and Autoblog (1/26, Bigelow, 454K).

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According to GM There Are Nearly 900,000 Defective Ignition Switches Still On The Road

Auto World News (1/26, 1K) is reporting that GM filed documentation with the NHTSA last week that shows “almost 900,000 GM vehicles with potentially defective ignition switches are still being used.” General Motors “says that out of a recall of approximately 2,190,934 vehicles, just 1,229,529 vehicles have been repaired by dealers.” Furthermore Auto World News reports that “The total number of ‘unreachable’ vehicles is up to 80,122, according to the Detroit automaker.”

Source:    Auto World News

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Senator Charles Grassley: Nonprofit Hospitals Who Sue Poor Patients Over Unpaid Bills Could Be Breaking The Law

Fox News (1/25, 8.25M) reports that “Sen. Charles Grassley [R-IA] is calling out nonprofit hospitals who are suing poor patients over unpaid bills and says they could be breaking the law, according to a report by ProPublica and NPR.” Senator Grassley “sent a letter, dated January 16, 2015, to Heartland Regional Medical Center, a nonprofit hospital in St. Joseph, Mo., that has garnished the wages of low-income patients who were unable to pay their medical bills.” Sen. Grassley, “citing the ProPublica (1/26, 7K) and NPR (1/22, 1.58M) report…said the hospital, which recently changed its name to Mosaic Life Care, had stretched the law to the breaking point,” writing that the hospital, “may not be meeting the requirements to be a nonprofit, tax-exempt hospital.”

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Wal-Mart Settles With Family Of Comedian Killed In New Jersey Truck Wreck

The AP (1/22, Porter) is reporting that the family of James McNair, the comedian who was killed in a New Jersey Turnpike crash last summer that seriously injured Tracy Morgan, has “settled a wrongful-death claim with Wal-Mart.” According to the story, the “out-of-court settlement” is the “first stemming from the June 7 crash, in which a Wal-Mart truck slammed into a limo van” carrying Morgan and McNair. The AP notes that a preliminary investigation by the NTSB estimated that the truck driver, Kevin Roper, was “driving 65 mph in the 60 seconds before he slammed into the limo van.” The speed limit on that section of the highway is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph on the day of the accident due to construction. ABC News (1/22, Katersky, 3.41M) reports that the amount of the settlement is confidential.

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Lowe’s Settles Employee Misclassification Lawsuit

Employers often misclassify their employees to avoid liability.
Forbes (1/21, Wald, 12.95M) reports that three lessons that businesses should learn following Lowe’s Home Centers settlement in which its contractors argued that “they had been misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees.” The article states that “one of the more common misconceptions held by today’s businesses is that working with an LLC removes the risk associated with misclassification.” Forbes cites the recent ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Court and the Kansas Supreme Court that FedEx Ground “had misclassified employees as independent contractors who were operating as a business entity.”

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NHTSA Scrutinizes Ford Recall

In an article appearing on the front page of its “Business Day” section, the New York Times (1/21, B1, Jensen, Ivory, Subscription Publication, 9.97M) reports that a week after NHTSA Administrator Mark R. Rosekind said he planned on being “more vigilant on safety,” the NHTSA has “taken the unusual move of revisiting the 2013 recall of Ford’s biggest pickup trucks.” The initial recall, which was issued to repair a stalling problem, was limited to nearly 3,000 trucks that were used as ambulances. However, citing several complaints from drivers, the NHTSA notified Ford that “it is now investigating whether that recall should be” expanded, to include almost “197,000 additional pickups that have similar engines but are not used as ambulances,” according to the report. The Times goes on to note that recall queries, such as the investigation into the Ford recall, are “unusual,” noting that there were only four recall queries in 2014.

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Top Risk Concerns for 2015

From Wall Street Journal Risk Journal
By Ben DiPietro
“A survey of risk managers and corporate insurance experts by insurer Allianz SE found their top risk concern for 2015 is business interruption and supply chain risks, followed by natural catastrophes, fire and explosion, regulation worries and cybersecurity issues.”

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Lack of Ethical Culture At Financial Firms Is The Biggest Reason For Lack Of Trust In Industry

From the Wall Street Journal Risk and Compliance Journal
By Ben Dipietro
“A survey of 5,259 investment professionals by the CFA Institute found 63% saying the lack of ethical culture at financial firms is the biggest reason for the lack of trust in the industry. That is nearly four times greater than the second answer, poor government and regulation, which represented 16% of the results. Thirty-five percent of respondents said political risks are the most underestimated risk that could have a negative impact on global capital markets over the next five years.

The survey found 31% saying better alignment of compensation with investor objectives is the most-needed action by a financial firm to improve investor trust and confidence, followed by 27% saying a zero-tolerance policy for ethical lapses. CFA said these results are in line with the results of an earlier report in which it ‘flagged continued dissonance between high ethical standards and managerial career progression.’”

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