Justinian Lane

What Else Is Toyota Hiding?

One has to wonder what else the company is hiding.  This certainly doesn’t reflect well upon their sense of ethics:

-Toyota hid the existence of its roof strength tests in numerous cases. A new potential class-action lawsuit filed in California on behalf of two women left paralyzed by separate Toyota rollover crashes contends that recently uncovered company documents contradict sworn testimony by Toyota officials that the company had no written standard for how far vehicle roofs could be crushed. The long-hidden documents indicate Toyota did have such a standard: roofs could come no closer than a half-millimeter from test dummies' heads in a rollover crash.


-Toyota claimed in court documents that a 2000 Camry had "no component" to record its speed at the time of a crash. A Texas woman suing the automaker asserted she was injured when the air bag failed to deploy. The case went to trial last September and ended with a jury ruling in Toyota's favor.

The attorney, Stephen Van Gaasbeck of San Antonio, later found documents showing the Camry did record such information and that Toyota had the ability to download it from vehicles as early as 1997, circumstances that now cause him to question the company's honesty.

Source: AP IMPACT: In Toyota cases, evasion becomes tactic

What’s so troubling to me is that there are dozens of reasons that Toyota could have refused to turn this information over to plaintiffs.  But instead of arguing that it wasn’t obligated to turn this information over, Toyota appears to have denied that the information existed. 

I think the appropriate remedy for such deceit is for the courts to grant new trials to the affected plaintiffs, but on damages only.  Holding Toyota liable as a sanction would teach Toyota and other litigants that when it comes to our civil justice system, honesty is the best policy.

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Posted at 12:11 AM, Apr 12, 2010 in Civil Justice
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