Bill in Senate would make auto safety cover-ups a crime

Legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate that would make it a crime for an officer of a corporation to conceal information about a dangerously defective product.

U.S. Senators Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said that the recent settlement between the U.S. Justice Department and General Motors (GM) showed that stronger legislation is needed. After it was revealed that GM covered up a deadly ignition switch defect, the company agreed to pay $900 million and offer settlements to nearly 300 people who were injured and the families of 124 people who were killed as a result of the faulty switches, which caused vehicles to lose power while in motion. No criminal charges were brought against any GM employees.

The proposed legislation would make it a crime for an officer of a corporation to knowingly conceal information about an action or product that could put workers or the public a risk of serious injury or death. Under the proposed law, violators would face fines and up to five years in prison.

Sen. Blumenthal said that current law does not go far enough in holding corporate officials accountable when they are complicit in cover-ups that cause preventable tragedies. The bill, called the Hide No Harm Act, would also apply to other products, such as defective cribs and body armor, that have caused injuries.