Quantcast
Connect with us

Toyota accused of withholding documents from courts

Published

on

A top US lawmaker has attacked Toyota for allegedly withholding documents it was legally required to hand over in lawsuits by people injured in accidents in the Japanese auto giant’s vehicles.

Toyota immediately denied the charge from Democratic Representative Edolphus Towns, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, that its actions betrayed “a systematic disregard for the law.”

ADVERTISEMENT

On Friday, Towns cited documents obtained from a former Toyota in-house lawyer, Dimitrios Biller, as giving “evidence” of improper behavior including “routine violation of court discovery orders in litigation.”

“People injured in crashes involving Toyota vehicles may have been injured a second time when Toyota failed to produce relevant evidence in court,” Towns said in a blunt letter to Toyota Motor North America president and chief executive Yoshimi Inaba.

“Moreover, this also raises very serious questions as to whether Toyota has also withheld substantial, relevant information from NHTSA,” said Towns, referring to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Toyota has been under fire since January over a rash of defects that have prompted the recall of millions of vehicles and plunged the world’s largest carmaker into crisis.

In particular, the sudden acceleration problem found in some Toyota cars has gone unchecked for years, ultimately leading Toyota to issue nearly 10 million recall notices and temporarily halt sales of eight models.

ADVERTISEMENT

At least 34 deaths have been blamed on sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, according to complaints filed with NHTSA, which the agency said is more than all other automakers combined.

Toyota spokeswoman Cindy Knight said in a statement that “it is not uncommon” for corporations in litigation “to object to certain demands for documents made in litigation.”

“Consistent with that philosophy, we take appropriate steps to maintain the confidentiality of competitive business information and trade secrets. We are confident that we have acted appropriately,” she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Towns cited internal memoranda by Biller, especially one dated September 1, 2005, in which the attorney warns that Toyota has withheld electronic documents it should have provided, or “produced”, to plaintiffs’ attorneys.

“Clearly, this information should have been produced in litigation before today,” Biller, who defended Toyota in “rollover” cases as a top lawyer for the company from April 2003 to September 2007, said in the document.

ADVERTISEMENT

Toyota “is clearly not producing all of the relevant information/documents in its possession,” said Biller, warning that “we need to start preserving, collecting and producing e-mails and electronic discovery.”

Towns demanded an explanation from Inaba, who testified before the committee on Wednesday and was due before a Senate committee next week.

Knight said Toyota looked forward to addressing Towns’s concerns.

ADVERTISEMENT

Toyota could be in hot water if it is found to have improperly withheld documents, said Jacob Frenkel, a former US Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement lawyer and federal prosecutor who now defends white collar crimes.

“Any misconduct, misrepresentations and obstructive acts relating to information about problems with Toyota products absolutely are going to be scrutinized by US federal criminal prosecutors,” said Frenkel.

“The congressional panel cannot sanction for misconduct in a court of law, but the judge certainly can,” he warned.

However, some Japanese analysts, while acknowledging problems in Toyota’s handling of its recall, said they thought Congress had been too opportunistic in its pursuit of a solution.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It does seem that emotions are a factor at these hearings,” said Masahiro Fukuda, manager of Fourin Inc., a research company specializing in the auto industry.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Fox News poll delivers devastating news to Trump on impeachment

Published

on

According to a new Fox News poll released on Sunday morning, a clear majority of respondents -- beyond the margin of error -- believe Donald Trump should be convicted by the U.S. Senate for impeachable crimes and removed from office.

According to the poll, "On impeachment, by a 50-44 percent margin, voters think the Senate should vote to convict Trump and remove him from office. Most Democrats say remove (81 percent) and most Republicans disagree (84 percent). Among independents, more say Trump should be removed by a 19-point margin (53-34 percent)."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump has bigger 2020 re-election problems than impeachment: ‘A target-rich environment for Democrats’

Published

on

With Donald Trump expected to be acquited by the GOP-majority Senate in an impeachment trial being manipulated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democrats are setting their sights on the 2020 election where they feel the president is vulnerable on a host of other issues that can be piled on his House impeachment.

According to a report from the Daily Beast, democratic strategists who will be helping direct the 2020 campaign against Trump by the eventual Democratic nominee are licking their chops at the prospect of highlighting the president's poor stewardship of the country.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Will the GOP ‘stand for gaslighting or reality?’: George Conway thumps senate Republicans who refuse to consider Trump’s crimes

Published

on

Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," conservative attorney George Conway launched a broadside against Republican senators for their conduct in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, saying they are selling lies to the public.

Speaking with host Jake Tapper, Conway -- the husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway -- painted a withering portrait of the GOP that is hellbent on acquitting the president of obvious impeachable crimes.

"I'm deeply saddened," Conway began. "It is very upsetting and this is a moment of reckoning not just for the country and the rule of law and the constitution, but it is a specific day of reckoning for the Republican senators who took this oath, and the republican party generally, are they going to stand for lies instead of truth?"

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image