I have written about the ongoing debacle at Toyota Motor Corp. regarding their accelerator problems and numerous product liability lawsuits, and I have received a lot of calls from people who feel they have been victimized by a defective Toyota vehicle.
The more I investigate the situation, the more incredible it becomes. Toyota apparently was well aware of their problems, hid the evidence, and chose to ignore the problems. This may go down in history as a classic example of corporate greed overtaking public safety…not unlike the Ford Pinto, the tobacco industry, or asbestos manufacturers.
As product liability cases are launched across the country, attorneys have discovered that Toyota withheld potentially damaging information in previous lawsuits. The so-called “Book of Knowledge” was uncovered under subpoena by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. According to Committee chair, Edolphus Towns, Toyota conducted a “systematic disregard for the law” and routinely violated “court discovery orders in litigation.”
Among the information uncovered, Toyota has been concerned about the unintended acceleration problems as far back as 2005 and conducted numerous meetings and safety assessments. Toyota would often enter into negotiations during these early product liability lawsuits rather than disclose damaging evidence in discovery. These early plaintiffs would walk away satisfied that they were able to settle the case, but future victims were left in the dark regarding the dangers of these Toyota vehicles. The Committee has already placed the death toll from “runaway Toyotas” at 39 (12 more than the aforementioned Pinto disaster).
One of the most interesting stories (at least to me) to develop from the recent discoveries at Toyota, involves a Minnesota man, Koua Fong Lee, who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter after an accident he caused killed a family of three. Mr. Lee defended from the onset that he was unable to stop his car or avoid the crash, but the Minnesota jury did not believe his testimony and he was subsequently convicted and sent to prison. In light of recent information, his case will be reviewed. I certainly hope for Mr. Lee that justice will prevail if he truly was not at fault for this accident.
This is a case that seems to get uglier as time goes by. If you feel that you have been involved in an automobile accident because of a defective Toyota vehicle, contact our office for a free initial consultation. Time is of the essence in a case like this so it is in your best interest to call right away.