Md. mother wants criminal charges for GM recall lapses

DENTSVILLE, Md. – A Maryland mother who lost her daughter in a crash linked to an ignition defect says the $35 million fine levied against General Motors isn’t nearly enough.

Last week, federal regulators fined General Motors for the delayed recall of 2.6 million cars for an ignition defect linked to 13 deaths.

The fine was the maximum civil penalty that the Transportation Department could impose.

“If you take a look at what GM earned last year it was in the billions. Thirty-five million dollars is what GM could earn in a day or two,” said Laura Christian.

Christian’s 16-year-old daughter Amber Marie Rose was killed in a crash in 2005. The airbags of her brand new Chevy Cobalt failed to deploy.

Christain had given Amber up for adoption and the two had only been reunited for a year when Amber was killed.

The problem is with the ignition assembly. In some instances a heavy key chain can can cause the car to switch into “accessory mode,” which disables the airbags and in some cases caused drivers to loose control of their vehicles.

Joining with other families who have lost loved ones in crashes linked to the ignition defect, Christian has put her support behind an online petition that asks U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to hold GM criminally liable for failing to recall the affected cars sooner.

“If you or I went out and killed someone, we would be held (to) the maximum that the law can do and rightly so. GM should be held to those same standards,” Christan says.

The petition has garnered more than 100,000 signatures and Christian says eventually she, along with other families, plan to “present this to Eric Holder, in person.”

Christian says the petition urges the attorney general to hold any GM employee that knew about the defect criminally responsible “unless they did something to try to stop it.”

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has urged Congress to increase the maximum penalty to $300 million, a change that Christian supports.

“If we don’t take a percentage of their profit where it really hurts them, they’re going to continue to do this just the way they always have done.”

GM has announced changes in their safety practices and is investigating the recall. But that means little to Christian.

“They’ve tried to divide themselves into the old GM and the new GM, but in reality it’s just GM. They’re just simply doing damage control.”

She wants to the see the automaker park all affected cars until the defect is fixed.

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