General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced in testimony on Tuesday that the automaker has brought on attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who administrated the government’s victim compensation fund after 9/11, to deal with the company’s response to its ongoing recall.
Feinberg has handled compensation for victims and their families in the wake of the BP oil spill and the Boston Marathon bombing, among other disasters.
“My mandate from the company is to consider the options for dealing with issues surrounding the ignition switch matter, and to do so in an independent, balanced and objective manner based upon my prior experience,” Feinberg said in a press release issued by GM on Tuesday.
Thirteen fatalities have been attributed to the ignition switch issues, according to GM.
The carmaker’s chief executive appeared before a House subcommittee on Tuesday to answer questions about the company’s response to a recall concerning defective ignition switches. The recall has swelled to include 2.5 million vehicles worldwide.
Consumer watchdog groups sent a letter to Barra dated April 1 urging the formation of a fund to compensate the families of people who died due to the ignition switch defect.
“As you know, in 2009 GM shed itself of all legal responsibility for injuries or deaths caused by defective GM cars for crashes occurring before July 10, 2009,” the groups wrote in the letter. “This left hundreds of victims with little or nothing, including children with catastrophic injuries who had pending claims.”
“Lives are at stake, and we will follow the facts where they take us as we work to pinpoint where the system failed,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, said ahead of the hearing.