Things have not been going well for Toyota and it looks like things just got much worse. The AP has reported that House oversight committee chairman Edolphus Townes accused Toyota of “deliberately withholding key vehicle design and testing evidence in lawsuits filed by Toyota drivers injured in crashes.” Towns wrote that Toyota chose to enter hefty settlements with plaintiffs to avoid disclosing the database, which the lawmaker said was referred to as the “Books of Knowledge.”
Toyota said in a statement that it is confident it acted appropriately in product liability lawsuits and it looks forward to addressing Towns’ concerns. The automaker said it is not uncommon for companies to object to demands for documents made in lawsuits. “Consistent with that philosophy, we take appropriate steps to maintain the confidentiality of competitive business information and trade secrets,” the statement said.
If true, the article discloses another example of corporate business choosing profits over people. These allegations along with those by the NHTSB that Toyota did not disclose problems to regulators continues to create a portrait of a company that hid significant safety problems with its vehicles at the expense of gaining market share and becoming the number 1 automaker in the world. Toyota’s path to number 1 is littered with the bodies of people who bought their cars. Next time you hear someone talk about frivolous lawsuits and tort reform, you might want to mention Toyota.
I am glad these Plaintiff’s received hefty settlements, unfortunately, their silence contributed to Toyota’s ability to hide problems for a much longer time, presumably at the expense of other people injured or killed by their products. I wouldn’t be surprised if more information comes to light showing that Toyota knew about the unintended acceleration problems with its vehicles but didn’t take any comprehensive action to warn its customers about it. I do know that you can disclose information in lawsuits in a manner which protects the “confidentiality of competitive business information and trade secrets.” Toyota’s decision to settle those cases instead of disclosing that information, speaks for itself.