GM puts two engineers on paid leave in wake of ignition switch problem

Apr 10, 2014

Congresswoman Diana DeGette, D-CO, demonstrates the ignition switch in question during a congressional hearing on April 1, 2014.
Congresswoman Diana DeGette, D-CO, demonstrates the ignition switch in question during a congressional hearing on April 1, 2014.
Credit screen grab / U.S. House of Representatives

Two engineers have been put on paid leave at General Motors as the company has an outside attorney investigate why it took more than 10 years for GM to recall millions of cars with faulty ignition switches.

GM says the switches have been linked to at least 13 deaths.

More on the suspension of the engineers from the Associated Press:

The company says in a statement Thursday that the action was taken after a briefing from former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas. He's been hired to figure out why GM was so slow to recall the cars.

The engineers were not identified in the statement. CEO Mary Barra says the move is an interim step as GM tries to find out what happened.

In his report today for USA Today, James Healey wrote about one engineer linked to the ignition switch problem.

The GM engineer linked to the switch redesign is Ray DeGiorgioa. Documents from the House and Senate hearings showed a person of that name signing off on the April 2006 switch change.

In a now-settled civil lawsuit against GM over the death of Brooke Melton, killed in a 2010 crash of her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt that experienced switch failure, lawyer Lance Cooper asked DeGiorgio whether he had ever "signed a work order or a change authorization" to approve a redesigned ignition switch.

DeGiorgio said, "I don't recall ever authorizing such a change, but it would definitely have been picked up in our engineering change systems of such a work order."

At the April 2 Senate grilling of Barra, Sen. Claire McCaskill accused DeGiorgio of commiting perjury "repeatedly under oath."

Attempts by reporters to reach DeGiorgio have been unsuccessful.