The AP (10/29, Risling) reports that court documents filed in a suit against Toyota claim that the company “bought back cars from drivers who reported sudden acceleration defects, but” didn’t report “purchasing concerned owners’ vehicles to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nor did Toyota executives when they testified before Congress earlier this year.” According to plaintiffs, the “company compelled the owners to sign confidentiality agreements that prevented them from speaking publicly about the issues they encountered.” Plaintiffs’ attorney Steve Berman said, “The revelation that they bought up the cars in question and prevented the owners from talking about their experience is curious at best, nefarious at worst.” Meanwhile, “Toyota spokesman Mike Michels denied the allegations.”
The Los Angeles Times (10/29, Bensinger, Vartabedian) reports that, according to Department of Transportation spokeswoman Olivia Alair, “the agency received the field reports this year among hundreds of thousands of Toyota documents it requested for its own investigations into the automaker.” Additionally, plaintiff allege that “employees at Toyota dealerships witnessed and duplicated sudden acceleration in the company’s vehicles several times in the last decade.”
According to Bloomberg News (10/28, Gullo), Steven Curtis, a spokesman for Toyota’s US sales arm in Torrance, California, said “that no technicians for the company or field specialists confirmed unintended acceleration in vehicles. He said the plaintiffs’ lawyers are referring to service technicians employed by dealerships, which are independent businesses.” However, Berman says that “dealer technicians are agents of the company” and that they “reported the results to the company.”
The Detroit Free Press (10/29, Gardner), Reuters (10/28, Gorman), the “Law Blog” of the Wall Street Journal (10/28, Searcey), and ABC News (10/28, Rhee) also cover this story.
From the American Association for Justice news release.