GM Recall: Cast of Characters

As promised, I am kicking off a series of posts on the General Motors ignition switch recall. You may have heard about that little recall – it’s been in the news just a bit.

I’m skeptical of the news, myself, so when I heard GM had hired an outside attorney to conduct an internal investigation and write a report for its Board of Directors, I decided to read the report and draw my own conclusions. Then the report turned out to be over 300 pages…

Nevertheless, I read the whole thing and would now like to tell you about it, with my experience in the automotive industry and as an attorney as the backdrop. It would take way too long for me to write – and you to read – one post on the entire thing. So I’ve decided to break it down into a series. Each post will link to the others, for ease of use, and today’s post is the first!

To start, I thought I would introduce you to the cast of characters in this saga. There are quite a few, and they can be hard to keep straight, so use this as your guide (frankly, I wish I had created this for myself!)


Anton Valukas – former U.S. Attorney, now an attorney at the law firm of Jenner & Block; he and a team of attorneys from J&B conducted the investigation, including interviewing dozens of GM employees (past and present) and reviewing millions of pages of documents


Mary Barra – CEO of GM since January 15, 2014, formerly Executive Vice President for Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply Chain; a GM lifer. The Valukas investigation and report were done at her direction.

Alicia Boler-Davis – Senior Vice President of Global Quality and Customer Experience

Michael Millikin – GM General Counsel since 2009

Mark Reuss – Executive Vice President for Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply Chain (succeeded Barra), formerly President of GM North America

Rick Wagoner – CEO of GM from 2000 to 2009; resigned during the federal bailout at the request of the White House


Alan Adler – manager for safety communications

Gary Altman – a Program Engineering Manager on the Cobalt Program Team

Carmen Benavides – Director of Production Investigations

Larry Buonomo – attorney, manager of GM’s product litigation cases

John Calabrese – Vice President of Global Vehicle Engineering

Ray DeGiorgio – the Design Release Engineer responsible for the ignition switch

Jim Federico – oversaw team investigating the ignition switch issue (took over from Terry Woychowski)

Maureen Foley-Gardner – Director of Field Performance Evaluation

Bill Kemp – senior attorney focused on safety issues

Gay Kent – various roles, including Director of Product Investigations, General Director of Safety and Crashworthiness; oversaw team investigating the ignition switch issue (took over from Jim Federico)

Jaclyn Palmer – product litigation attorney

Ron Porter – product litigation attorney

Lori Queen – Vehicle Line Executive for small cars (including the Chevy Cobalt and Saturn Ion) beginning in 2001; member of the Cobalt Program Team

John Sprague – airbag engineer for the Field Performance Assessment division

Brian Stouffer – investigator, Product Investigations division

David Trush – Lead Design Engineer on the ignition cylinder

Doug Wachtel – manager, Product Investigations division

Terry Woychowski – Vice President of Global Quality and Vehicle Launch; oversaw team investigating the ignition switch issue


Subbaiah Malladi – consultant hired by GM to assist with the ignition switch investigation

Erin Shipp – engineer/plaintiff’s expert who concluded in 2012 that airbag non-deployments were caused by the low torque of the ignition switch

Keith Young – Wisconsin State Trooper; conducted investigation of one of the Cobalt crashes in 2007 and determined connection between ignition switch issue and airbag non-deployment