Dem reacts to GM with public safety transparency bill

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday proposed legislation that would prevent companies from hiding product defects that could hurt public health and safety.

Nadler is re-introducing his Sunshine in Litigation Act, but said it's in response to reports that General Motors was able to conceal a defect in its cars that officials say led to 13 deaths.

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"A company should not be allowed to use courtroom settlements to keep lifesaving information from the public," Nadler said Tuesday. "Current federal court rules make it too easy for defendants subject to lawsuits to protect their profits over saving lives.

"Were there a requirement to inform the public about a product’s deadly safety flaws, we would have been able to save lives and GM's manufacturing mistake would have been corrected much sooner."

General Motors CEO Mary Barra was testifying in the House Tuesday about the more than 10 years it took for GM to reveal problems with the ignition switch in more than one million of its cars.

Many members are upset that it took the company so long to reveal this problem, and Nadler said his bill would have made the problem easy to report.

"As early as 2005, GM reached settlements with victims that required the parties to keep the issues confidential," he said. "If the critical safety information had been disclosed to the public, as would be required by the Sunshine in Litigation Act, many lives likely would have been saved."