Toyota routinely deceives the court and opposing counsel when it has been sued in connection with sudden acceleration and other defect cases, according to a detailed investigation by the Associated Press that was released yesterday.
Toyota has withheld requested documents, hidden test results, and refused to release data that is stored electronically in its vehicles.
“Toyota has no peer” in disclosing this required information, according to Texas attorney Ernest Cannon, who represented the family of a 35 year old woman, Lisa Evans, who died in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land in 2002.
Another Texas woman was killed when her Land Cruiser suddenly went into reverse and pinned her against her garage wall. However, Toyota claimed in court documents that it knew of no other such incidents, when it had recently settled a nearly identical case.
Toyota also withheld documents in a Colorado products liability lawsuit filed by the father of a young child killed in a 4Runner rollover crash regarding inernal roof strength test despite a federal judge’s order. Toyota won the case. A new lawsuit has accused Toyota of fraud in connection with that verdict.
Also, Toyota knew about sudden accceleration problems in April of 2009, a long time before it finally got around to a recall, according to some 70,000 pages of records just released. James Lentz, its president, has claimed that he did not know about any problems with accceleration until January. However, Toyota’s own documents show that the engineering department was aware of the problem as early as April 2009.
I believe that it is horrible when these multi billion dollar corporations put profits over everything else, including our safety. Toyota has an ethical duty to design and manufacture safe vehicles, and it it fails to do so, to acknowledge that it made a mistake and compensate injured persons, not compound their misery by hiding the truth.