General Motors' top lawyer will retire early next year, months after his department was heavily criticized for how it handled the automaker's defective ignition switch that has been linked to at least 27 deaths. Michael Millikin, 66, informed GM of his decision and the company will immediately begin an external search for his replacement, the No. 1 U.S. automaker said on Friday. He will remain general counsel, a position he has held since 2009, until a successor is named.
GM has faced criticism this year for waiting 11 years to recall millions of cars with ignition-switch problems that were linked to fatalities. The switch can slip out of position, stalling the vehicle and disabling air bags, and the defect led to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year. Millikin's legal department came in for heavy criticism in a 325-page report released by GM in June. Many of the 15 people either fired or forced out by GM were attorneys or worked under Millikin. However, the report said Millikin did not know details of the ignition switch problem until this year.