Names of 3 more ousted GM executives reported by Reuters
THE GM RECALL

GM ignition-switch protesters expected at annual meeting

Names of 3 more ousted GM executives reported by Reuters

Protesters began gathering in front of GM headquarters this afternoon in downtown Detroit, and attracted live coverage from television network CNBC.
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DETROIT -- A planned protest at General Motors headquarters by family members of crash victims will serve as the backdrop Tuesday to an annual meeting of GM shareholders here that should prove more substantive than the mundane proceedings of past years.

At least 20 people plan to protest ahead of the 9:30 a.m. EDT meeting, according to the GM Recall Survivors Facebook page, a forum for families of the 13 people who died and others who were injured in crashes linked to a faulty ignition switch used in older GM cars.

Protesters gathered in front of GM headquarters this afternoon in downtown Detroit and attracted live national coverage from television network CNBC.

The annual meeting comes five days after GM released a 325-page report that found no corporate cover-up of the ignition switch defect, but blamed incompetence and a plodding GM culture for having let the problem fester for more than a decade.

The ignition switch matter is not on the agenda but is likely to be a focal point of the meeting, Mary Barra's first as CEO. Barra plans to meet with reporters before the event and provide a "state of the business address" during the meeting, according to GM's agenda.

Tim Solso will preside over his first meeting since being appointed nonexecutive chairman in January. Solso told The Detroit News in a story published today that the board has been "extraordinarily" involved in the ignition switch matter and the subsequent wave of recalls that GM has issued as it redoubles its safety focus.

GM has set aside $1.7 billion to cover the cost of the 34 recalls it has issued so far this year, covering 13.9 million U.S. vehicles. That figure counts some vehicles more than once because they are being called back for multiple safety-related fixes.

Barra will be joined at the meeting by her new executive team: President Dan Ammann, CFO Chuck Stevens, global product chief Mark Reuss and General Counsel Michael Millikin, who saw some of his top lawyers depart last week, among 15 GM employees ousted as a result of the internal investigation.

More executives identified

So far, the names of 11 of the 15 ousted employees have been reported.

Reuters, citing two people familiar with the matter, reported today that attorneys Jaclyn Palmer and Ronald Porter, who had settled several of the cases involving Chevrolet Cobalt cars involved in accidents where airbags did not deploy, are no longer at GM. Maureen Foley-Gardner, director of field performance evaluation, also was pushed out, Reuters said.

None of the three employees identified by Reuters on Monday could be reached on their personal phones for comment. Their names were no longer recognized at the main GM switch board. GM declined to comment.

New board member

Shareholders will vote on whether to add UAW Vice President Joe Ashton to its board. Ashton, who was nominated by the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, which owns about 140 million GM shares, would become the first UAW member to be on GM's board.

The victims of family members planning to protest before the meeting are likely to express dissatisfaction with GM's report.

"I'm happy to see that they're calling themselves incompetent and negligent," Laura Christian, whose 16-year-old daughter, Amber Marie Rose, was killed in a Chevrolet Cobalt in July 2005, told Baltimore TV station WJZ last week. "But I still think there's more they're not revealing to all of us."

GM still faces investigations into its handling of the ignition switch by two congressional committees, the Department of Justice and federal safety regulators.

This month, lawyer Kenneth Feinberg is expected to lay out a plan to compensate the families of victims who died and those who were seriously injured in accidents linked to the switch. 

Reuters contributed to this report.

You can reach Mike Colias at mcolias@crain.com.

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