I recall watching a film named ‘Class Action’ years ago with Gene Hackman and Mary Elisabeth Mastrantonio. The plot concerned an American law class action against a car manufacturing company, and the victims were all supposed to have been killed by a manufacturing defect, which placed an unshielded electrical connection hard up against the petrol tank, so that in the event of a rear-end collision, the fuel leaking from the ruptured tank would splash over the sparking electrical connection; and hence the fire, the deaths, and the law suit.
One particular scene has always stuck in my memory, when Hackman, taking the part of a lawyer, asks the ‘Risk Management Accountant’ about the fact that the problem had been discovered, the engineer had stated that the solution was both elegant and easily achieved; but the cars were never recalled for the ‘fix’. The ‘Risk Accountant’ stuttered out the reply that the decision was taken that the costs of paying for the deadly problem to be fixed was too large, and, if the car crashed and then caught fire, it was cheaper to fight the cases through the courts.
And then I read these headlines about General Motors , and once more realised that there is nothing new, especially in ‘big business’; nothing new under the sun, indeed!