DETROIT, Mich. - On Thursday at a town hall meeting, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, announced a settlement of $900 million. GM is also submitting to a monitor - acknowledging a deadly problem with ignition switches was hidden for over a decade.
"I certainly think it's an admission. It should've handled it differently," said Dani Liblang, Attorney.
In what's called a "deferred prosecution agreement" - the deal calls for two criminal charges to be dismissed after three years, if the automaker cooperates fully. Among the terms, GM must establish an independent monitor to review all safety and recall policies and procedures. GM is also adding 30 product safety investigators.
"The settlement of this investigation is not the last step. It is another step forward for us as we grow into the great company and zero defect product organization that I know we can and will become," said Mark Reuss, GM Executive Vice President of Global Product Development.
GM also announced Thursday it will spend $575 million to settle many of the civil lawsuits filed. So far, at least 169 deaths have been linked to the ignition switch problem.
"We accept the penalties being announced today, because that’s what it means to be held accountable," said Barra.
Paul Lesperance of Macomb Township lost his father.
"There are children in our family that will never meet their grandfather so the apology is definitely appreciated."
He’s just one victim who wasn't covered under GM's settlement fund.
"They only covered the first wave of recalls, even though there were several waves of recalls dealing with the exact same problem,” said Liblang.”Many other people suffered injury or death.”
As GM looks toward the future, Barra is trying to change the culture of the company. Many of those who suffered hope GM's acknowledgment of wrongdoing means they'll finally take full responsibility for all of the accidents.
"Everybody makes mistakes, but to make right what was done - for what’s been acknowledged, still needs to happen." said Lesperance.