Ka-Ching: Toyota To Pay $16.4m On Monday. Or Not
On April 5, the NHTSA levied their largest civil penalty in recorded history. $16,375,000 against Toyota, because “they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families.” When we reported that, people thought Toyota would just appeal and drag it out. Not so easy, said The Nikkei [sub]. Toyota is between a rock and a hard place: “Admitting to the charge could strengthen the cases of car owners suing the firm, while refuting it risks inflaming U.S. public opinion.” Toyota found a way out.
According to Japan’s Jiji News Agency, Toyota will pay the $16.4m on Monday morning without admitting any wrongdoing. According to Jiji, Toyota “concluded that filing a complaint over the penalty would draw opposition from the U.S. government and Congress and further damage its brand image, already hurt by recent massive recalls to deal with the defect.”
Reuters says that Toyota might still appeal if regulators don’t approve the company’s plan of not admitting the allegations.
So what say you? Will LaHood take the money?
I don't think that this will help much either way. The fine is that they didn't notify the NHTSA soon enough about the problem, not that the problem didn't exist. I don't think this is that big of a deal.
I bet legal council for both the plantiff and the defendent would beg to differ...
So, will the DOT accept the "pay fine without admission of guilt" deal or not? Comments?
$16,400,000 is pocket change to Toyota, and if they can get out of this by paying that without admission of guilt they should certainly take it, but the NHTSA would be a fool to let them. Toyota's damages could possibly be dragged into the billions, or even tens of billions, and seriously hurt the company if the government plays this right. If LaHood et al take this deal then it is just a de facto admission that they were out to besmirch the Toyota name a bit without ever following through. I myself, as well as practically every employee of a domestic manufacturer or a domestic manufacturer's dealer wants to see Toyota bleed out over this. While a lot of people said that the government inolvement in GM and Chrysler could end up hurting Ford, this is one of the situations in which Ford benefits without getting dirty even if the government's reasoning for pushing Toyota against the wall is to prop up GM/Chrysler.