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Toyota's "questionable, evasive, and deceptive legal tactics"

By Michael Fumento

"Toyota has routinely engaged in questionable, evasive and deceptive legal tactics when sued, frequently claiming it does not have information it is required to turn over and sometimes even ignoring court orders to produce key documents, an Associated Press investigation shows." Or has it? I'm not necessarily challenging their conclusion, I'm really asking.

I would live inside this car...

The point of my Toyota writings so far has been that the company builds great cars and has been falsely maligned. That doesn't mean it hasn't engaged in wrongful courtroom antics, though, and the company just doesn't pay me enough to say otherwise. (Actually for the record they don't pay me anything. Nor does any PR firm. HOWEVER, for one of these babies, it's just possible they can buy me off and I think they have nothing to lose in trying. See inset.)

One problem is it is indeed just AP's review. As my articles have made clear, the media are on a witch hunt and just as witch hunters of yore often believed they were doing the Lord's work, so do those of today. And just as those witch hunters were often just a bit too quick to see evidence of witchcraft where none was to be found, so too today.

Another problem is that it's clear from the article that the "experts" upon whom the journalists relied aren't just lawyers, aren't just trial lawyers, but are trial lawyers suing Toyota. "Automobile manufacturers, in my practice, have been the toughest to deal with when it comes to sharing information," one lawyer told AP, " but Toyota has no peer." He represents somebody killed in a Toyota crash.

Then we're told, "Similar claims have been lodged by Dimitrios Biller, a former Toyota attorney who sued the company in August, contending it withheld evidence in considerably older rollover cases."

To its credit, AP does say, "Attorneys who regularly defend corporate clients say it's common for plaintiffs' lawyers to complain they are not receiving the information they need and that Toyota's tactics do not necessarily indicate nefarious intent." Moreover, if you pore over enough lawsuits you will find discrepancies.

That's the old rule of "The more you look, the more you find." It's pretty much a given that if you analyze every tort case Toyota has been involved in over the last decade or so, you'll probably find some legal wrongdoing - and the same would be true for Ford or GM.

The jury is still out on this one.

April 12, 2010 07:06 PM  ·  Automobile Safety ~ Toyota  ·  Recent Posts