Toyota sued over allegedly withholding evidence in rollover cases: Here’s how it could affect you
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on September 3rd, 2009
Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/ruchos
If you have been injured in a vehicle crash involving a Toyota car or truck in the last few years, pay special note – the company has just been sued by a former corporate attorney who alleges that Toyota illegally withheld critical information about hundreds of rollover crashes involving injuries and deaths.
In a report posted on CBSNews.com, the former attorney, Dimitrios P. Biller, the former managing counsel for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., filed a 75-page lawsuit alleging that Toyota executives were “not producing e-mails and other electronically stored information to plaintiffs as he said was required,” according to the CBS story. The lawsuit alleges that his complaints to superiors about the situation cost him his job. The company and key executives “conspired … to unlawfully withhold evidence from plaintiffs and obstruct justice in lawsuits throughout the United States against Toyota,” the lawsuit states. “Many of the plaintiffs in these lawsuits sustained catastrophic and fatal injuries in rollover accidents involving Toyota vehicles.” Biller alleges in his lawsuit that he was intimidated and harassed by the company due to his persistence in arguing that the crash evidence should be revealed and that the company engaged in a “ruthless conspiracy and relentless effort to prevent evidence of its vehicles’ structural shortcomings from becoming known.”
In a statement published in the CBSNews.com story, Toyota “called Biller’s charges ‘inaccurate and misleading,'” saying the company “takes its legal obligations seriously and works to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards.”
So where does this leave you, the public?
Yes, the case is pending, but it already opens some amazing and disturbing potential legal questions. Assuming that these serious allegations are proven true, however, we are all being made the fool by Toyota.
If Toyota executives are eventually found to have conducted themselves in such a manner, where they withheld evidence in legal cases involving injuries and deaths caused by their vehicles, it is absolutely, positively reprehensible. It would throw a huge wrench into every Toyota accident case that has already been decided, leaving it open to new reviews and investigations into the company’s conduct.
Certainly the claims in this fascinating and very disturbing case are still far from being resolved, but it is a huge case to follow and watch carefully for it has legal implications for all of us.
Negligent parties should be responsible for all of the damages that they cause to others, including punitive damages, because such court awards serve as warnings for other companies of the consequences of their misdeeds. How else will we ever get safer products and safer roadways?
Accountability and removing the financial benefits of bad behavior protects us all.