Senate Passes New Whistleblower Bill

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on May 08, 2015 in Defective Products

senate automobile whistleblower legislationThe U.S. Senate recently passed legislation that would allow the Department of Transportation to reward auto industry employees who report vehicle safety defects to the government, The Detroit News reported last week.

The newspaper wrote that the bill, the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act, would enable these employees to be paid millions of dollars for reporting the defects.

According to thelegislation, the reward would be available to any employee or contractor from an automobile manufacturer, part supplier, or dealership who reports previously unknown safety problems resulting in over $1 million in fines against an automotive company,

The Secretary of Transportation could pay the whistleblower up to 30 percent of the fines collected from the company, the Senate bill states.

Last November, Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced the bill, which was passed by the Senate on April 28.

Earlier in the year, Thune had underscored the reason for the proposed law. While I believe most manufacturers are dedicated to putting vehicle safety first, there have been disappointing examples where that did not happen and Americans died and sustained serious injuries, he said in a written statement.

Two auto industry manufacturers General Motors (GM) and Takata Corp. were recently fined for safety problems, The Detroit News wrote in April.

GMs safety problem involved a faulty ignition switch, according to ConsumerReports.org.

GM has linked 13 deaths to the defective switch, the nonprofit news website wrote.

The switch could malfunction by slipping out of position, shutting off power to the vehicle and making the air bags fail in a crash, the site added.

Takatas problem involved air bags.

Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a statement urging car owners with certain vehicles to act on a safety recall and replace defective Takata air bags.

The NHTSA also said that there were 7.8 million affected vehicles from ten manufacturers: Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.

In a letter to the NHTSA, a Takata executive said that there were potential problems with the air bag inflators that could be caused by exposure to high levels of humidity in Florida and Puerto Rico.

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