[Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story appears in the July issue of Corporate Counsel magazine. The issue went to press just before General Motors released the report by Anton Valukas on what went wrong at various levels of the automaker. We’ve updated the story, including material from the Valukas report about what transpired in the legal department as the ignition switch defect became known, and what happened after the report’s release. This full-length, feature story wraps up the main developments on the legal front thus far.]

The deadly ignition switch fiasco at General Motors Co. has spawned a remarkable breadth of legal issues, ranging from the law department’s role in recalls to the company’s duty, if any, to compensate victims after it declared bankruptcy. Indeed, seldom has a legal department been thrust into such a high-profile role in a huge public controversy.

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