By on October 29, 2010

Bloomberg reports that a lawsuit accuses Toyota of a widespread coverup of unintended acceleration in its vehicles. The suit alleges that

“Toyota technicians” confirmed that vehicles were unexpectedly accelerating and the company bought back the vehicles, had customers sign confidentiality agreements and didn’t disclose the problems to regulators… In testimony about acceleration defects before Congress, Toyota Motor Corp. didn’t disclose that the technicians had replicated instances of sudden unintended acceleration not caused by pedals or mats… The company also didn’t report the customer agreements to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration… Toyota ordered employees to remove names of executives from acceleration related e-mails and to stop using specific acceleration terms in e-mails to prevent damage to the company in litigation

Toyota’s response:

Steven Curtis, a spokesman for Toyota’s U.S. sales arm in Torrance, California, said today in an e-mail that no technicians for the company or field specialists confirmed unintended acceleration in vehicles. He said the plaintiffs’ lawyers are referring to service technicians employed by dealerships, which are independent businesses… the claims are based on anecdotes and fail to identify any specific defects in the vehicles.

Plaintiffs claim that dealer techs are “agents of the company” and that vehicle repurchases and confidentiality agreements are proof positive of a coverup. Toyota admits that it investigated and repurchased two vehicles after dealer techs found “acceleration events,” but says its factory technicians were unable to replicate any problems. If this sounds like a complicated mess of he-said-she-said, consider that this suit is just one of 300 currently pending against the world’s largest automaker. The lawyers will probably be busy with this one for decades.

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8 Comments on “Lawsuit Alleges Toyota UA Coverup...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    One of the tenets of modern journalism (and the legal beagles that feed it) is that you can “allege” anything and the defamed party really has no recourse.  And the “allegedly” becomes “truth” in the minds of the audience.
     
    People think government and “normal” corporations have too much influence.  They don’t, really, not compared to what the media can do.  The blogosphere and the 24-hour news cycle only make this worse.

  • avatar

    this morning in Birch Run MI a woman in line at McDonald’s drive thru proceeded to the window as the vehicle in front of her moved ahead. her Pontiac Vibe took off, jumped the curbing, sped across Birch Run road narrowly missing heavy traffic, knocked over a tree, and plowed into the front line of cars at Suski Chevrolet/Buick landing on top of a used CTS. thankfully no one was hurt.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Requiring customers to sign non-disclosure agreements in exchange for buying back a product is standard operating procedure in the auto industry. Toyota isn’t the only company that does this.

  • avatar

    The idea of the lawsuit like this is to proceed into the discovery phase at all costs. Then, they can fish for information supporting the allegation, and you can bet that in the company that big there will always be some e-mail or other or even a nutcase employee. Once suspicious material is discovered, the case goes into the chantage phase where attacking lawers shake Toyota down for settlement.


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