Safety Group Seeks GM Bailout Information

The U.S. Treasury’s role in shielding General Motors Co. from car lawsuits after a 2009 bailout of the automaker isn’t confidential and should be made public, the Center for Auto Safety told a federal judge.

The safety association’s president, Clarence Ditlow, now researching GM’s ignition-switch defects, is seeking access to e-mails from Treasury employees that may have told GM to reject responsibility for millions of people who own defective cars or had accidents before the bailout.

In a filing yesterday in federal court in Washington, the group asked the judge to force the U.S. to disclose the documents, some of which it has sought since 2009.

The center cited a 2014 filing by GM saying that the U.S. stipulated that the company should abandon most of its predecessor’s liabilities, including for earlier accidents and economic losses on faulty cars.

The Treasury has asked the judge to throw out Ditlow’s 2011 suit, saying information it got before investing $49.5 billion in the automaker can’t be sought under the Freedom of Information Act and disclosure would hurt its chances of negotiating a future rescue of a company considered essential to the economy.

The case is Center for Auto Safety v. U.S. Department of Treasury, 11-cv-01048, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).