Compensation terms left to Feinberg

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DETROIT — Kenneth Feinberg will be given full say in determining which victims of General Motors’ faulty ignition switch will qualify for compensation and how much money GM ultimately will pay, company executives said last week.

“We want everyone who has either lost a loved one or suffered serious injury to be part of the compensation program,” GM CEO Mary Barra told reporters last week.

GM has linked 13 deaths to the ignition switch, which is prone to slipping out of the “run” position, disabling power steering, brakes and airbags. GM has said that it included only front-impact crashes in which airbags didn’t deploy for its count of fatalities and injuries. Several trial lawyers have argued that the fatality tally also should include victims of side-impact crashes in which the vehicle lost control after the switch slipped out of run, for example.

“Feinberg will design the protocol and rules of this program,” GM President Dan Ammann said, implying that the 13 figure could rise depending on the criteria Feinberg uses. He affirmed that Feinberg would determine ultimately how much money GM will spend compensating victims.

Feinberg, a victim-compensation expert who worked on the 9/11 and BP oil spill cases, said in a statement last week that he expects to begin taking claims by Aug. 1.

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

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