| DETROIT, June 5
DETROIT, June 5 General Motors Co
dismissed several high-ranking executives, including at least
one vice president and two directors, for their roles in the
still-unfolding drama over deadly ignition switches in older GM
cars, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Michael Robinson, vice president for environmental,
sustainability and regulatory affairs; Gay Kent, general
director of vehicle safety and crashworthiness; and M. Carmen
Benavides, recently reassigned as director of product
investigations and safety regulations, were among 15 employees
dismissed from GM, according to the sources.
They said others dismissed were William Kemp, a senior
attorney responsible for engineering and safety issues; Lawrence
Buonomo, head of product litigation in GM's legal department;
and Jennifer Sevigny, an attorney who heads GM's field product
GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra on Thursday said GM
had dismissed 15 people, including engineers Ray DeGiorgio,
designer of the defective switches linked to at least 13 deaths,
and Gary Altman, chief engineer for the Chevrolet Cobalt and
Saturn Ion, which used those switches.
Barra said "some were removed because of what we consider
misconduct or incompetence. Others have been relieved because
they simply didn't do enough: They didn't take responsibility
(and) didn't act with any sense of urgency" to investigate
causes of fatal crashes and inform senior management.
Barra declined to identify the 15 who have left and a GM
spokesperson reiterated the company will not provide the names.
Attempts to contact Robinson were unsuccessful. Kent,
Benavides, Kemp, Buonomo and Sevigny did not respond to
telephone requests for comment.
Several of those dismissed worked on the GM legal staff
under General Counsel Michael Millikin, who was one of several
top GM executives cleared by investigator Anton Valukas, the
chairman of GM's outside counsel Jenner & Block, in an internal
probe that was released Thursday.
Prior to heading environmental and regulatory affairs,
Robinson held several positions on the legal staff, including
general counsel for GM North America.
As head of FPA, Sevigny often worked with the legal staff on
lawsuits and legal claims.
Kent and Benavides were top safety officials who sat in on a
number of internal meetings on the defective switches, according
to the report.
Kemp sat on an important legal review committee that
discussed lawsuits and was authorized to handle settlements up
to $1.5 million.
The committee was chaired after March 2012 by lawyer
Buonomo, the Valukas report said. Some members of the legal team
thought the committee could serve to give GM early warnings of
safety trends and issues of concern, such as the defective
ignition switches. But Buonomo told investigators that he
disagreed with this approach and that spotting trends was not
the committee's function.
In addition to those dismissed, Barra said five employees
were disciplined but would not discuss details.
(Additional reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit, Nick Carey in
Chicago and Marilyn W. Thompson in Washington; Editing by Ken