Apology comes a little too late

 By Marie E. Matyjaszek

Have you ever had that “friend” that apologized to you waaaaaay too late, after all of the conceivable damage from the offense had been done? I think we can all answer yes to that question. But imagine if that apology came 10 years later, after you had a criminal conviction marking your record, and had paid a lot of money for something that wasn’t your fault. That is the story of Texas resident Candice Anderson, who pled to involuntarily manslaughter in 2006 for driving in the automobile accident that killed her fiance Gene Erikson, and left Candice badly injured.

Candice was driving her trusty Saturn Ion when she lost control for seemingly no reason, crashing into a tree. The car’s airbags did not deploy, with no explanation for 10 years after the crash. Automaker recalls are common in the industry, some being much more serious than others, and the unfortunate thing is that people usually have to be injured or die before a recall is put into place. In February 2014, General Motors (GM), the manufacturer of the now defunct Saturn brand, issued a recall for 2.6 million of its vehicles, citing a problem with the ignition switches wherein the engines can stall, and power steering, brakes and airbags can fail. And guess what? Candice’s Saturn was one of the cars that would have been involved in the recall. GM finally acknowledged that Candice’s accident could have been caused by the recall problem, and issued a letter to that effect, leading to Candice’s conviction being expunged.

While I generally look at apologies as “better late than never,” I can share in Candice’s frustration that it took GM a decade to come forward. The car company has stated that it cooperated fully and provided information, and just thought that it was best for the judicial process to take its course before it became involved. Not surprisingly, both Candice and her deceased fiance’s family sued GM, but the case was settled after they became one of the many who joined the compensation program set up for the recall. It’s a sad case all around – a woman was horribly injured, held accountable for something that wasn’t her fault, and lost her future husband. The lives of their families were forever changed. What’s most depressing is that GM waited so long to help vindicate an innocent victim.

(The author is a family law attorney whose blog site is: http://legalbling. blogspot.com. She can be reached by e-mailing her at matyjasz@hotmail.com.)

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