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GM Worker Sues Under Whistleblower Law

GM Employee Who Says He Found Safety Defects Sues Under Whistleblowers' Act

Jan 13, 2003 | AP

A General Motors Corp. employee has sued the world's No. 1 automaker under Michigan's Whistleblowers' Protection Act, saying he was blackballed after he threatened to report vehicle safety defects.

Courtland T. Kelley, 40, said in the lawsuit that as manager of an internal auditing program to test vehicle safety, he found problems with fuel-line systems.

In court papers, Kelley said he believes the problems could cause cars to spew out fuel and kill or injure drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

"His primary objective is to get defective vehicles off the road and protect public safety," Kelley's attorney, Rose Goff, told The Detroit News for a Monday story.

Kelley, who filed the lawsuit Thursday, said he repeatedly notified higher management of the problem but was ignored.

GM spokesman Gerry Holmes said Friday that the company had not been notified of the lawsuit and had no comment on it.

Kelley reported his findings to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in December, Goff said. NHTSA spokeswoman Liz Neblett said it was unclear whether the agency will investigate.

According to the lawsuit, Kelley was demoted on Jan. 2, 2002. His auditing program was discontinued, he contends, because he had threatened to contact the federal agency about the defects.

Kelley is employed at the GM Tech Center in Warren but does not have a title or permanent assignment. He said he has been denied access to internal computer files, such as the ones he helped create that describe the safety concerns.

Michigan adopted the Whistleblowers' Protection Act in 1980 to protect workers who report illegal or unethical conduct by employers.

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