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General Motors Corporation

gmc If you worked as an auto mechanic, chances are you worked on many General Motors vehicles.

With the merger of The McLaughlin Motor Car Company Limited of Oshawa, Ontario, and Buick Motor Company of Detroit, General Motors was formed in 1908. McLauglin and Buick were the largest carriage companies in Canada and the United States at the time and owned by friendly rivals Sam McLauglin and William Durant.

Sam McLauglin’s presence and vision are still felt today in Oshawa, the Canadian home of General Motors for over a century. A visit to the McLauglin residence, the Parkwood Estate, or a visit to the auto museum is a must do for anyone visiting the Oshawa area. Through much of GM’s history the Canadian automotive industry thrived and grew the economy of Oshawa and had a major impact on the country. The “Motors” provided good jobs and was the cornerstone of the Oshawa economy. Through the company’s benevolence Oshawa has a fantastic legacy of parks and clubhouses built by GM.

What the founders could not have foreseen was the havoc that would befall the Corporation through several miss-steps and lack of judgement by subsequent management.

Brake and clutch parts contained asbestos to increase wear life and lessen the chance of sparks. Likewise, hood liners and other textiles in automobiles contained asbestos to reduce the chance of fire. The GM car and truck plants in Oshawa were heavily insulated with asbestos. Again, to reduce the risk of fire. At the time GM started using asbestos in their vehicles and manufacturing plants, it was not known how dangerous asbestos really was.

Where the liability arises with General Motors is its failure to stop using asbestos parts and materials when the danger was known. Evidence was available to GM management as early as 1940 that brake and clutch assemblers at the Detroit plant had a high incidence rate of cancer and other breathing difficulties. Johns-Manville, Bendix, Abex and other brake makers also knew of the danger as their brake workers also had an unusually high level of disease. Collectively, these corporations decided that compensating the workers that fell ill was less expensive than removing asbestos from their products.

General Motors made other massive mistakes including failing to keep up with design trends as well as the purchase of the Saturn motor company which pushed them into bankruptcy in 2009 when the financial crisis hit the USA.

When the company was bailed out by the US and Canadian Governments as well as the UAW and CAW, the current company, General Motors Company (“new GM”) was formed. The former company, General Motors Corporation was renamed to become Motors Liquidation Company (“old GM”) to deal with claims regarding General Motors. One of the class of claims MLC was set up to handle is asbestos claims. By establishing a compensation fund for asbestos injuries GM was able to shed its liability and remove the rights of injured people to file lawsuits against the corporation.

The bankruptcy proceeding occurred very quickly as General Motors was considered too big to fail. Most news focused on the potential loss of jobs and the harm to local economies, like Oshawa, Ontario. With very little publicity the Asbestos Trust was opened on March 31, 2011 to pay claims of workers and auto mechanics impacted by asbestos contained in vehicles produced by General Motors even if GM only assembled other auto parts makers components into their vehicles.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by working in and around General Motors vehicles contact us to get more information about compensation.