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April 20, 2010

An Associated Press investigation has found that Toyota Motor Company, the world’s biggest automaker currently struggling with the largest recall in company history, has routinely engaged in “questionable, evasive and deceptive” legal tactics in lawsuits against it. The AP claims that it is common practice for the company to claim that it doesn’t have information that it has been ordered to provide and routinely ignores court orders to supply important documents. The AP reviewed litigation against the company for a variety of complaints in addition to the sticking gas pedal problems that the company is currently addressing with a recall.

The AP reported that Toyota has hidden the existence of test data that would harm its legal position in these lawsuits and claimed that important documents were difficult to retrieve form company headquarters in Japan. The AP also claims that Toyota has routinely refused to release court-ordered data stored electronically in its vehicles. The AP cited a product liability lawsuit in Colorado filed by the parent of a young woman who was killed when her Toyota 4Runner rolled over in an accident. Toyota was found to have withheld documents about internal roof strength tests in spite of a federal judge’s order to produce these data.

Attorneys for the plaintiff in the case say that this documentation may have changed the outcome of the case, which resulted in a verdict for Toyota Motor Company in 2005.

“The plaintiff went to trial without having been given all the relevant evidence and all the evidence the court ordered Toyota to produce,” attorney Stuart Ollanik wrote in a new federal lawsuit accusing Toyota of fraud in the earlier case. “This trial was not a fair trial.”

The AP cited another case in which Toyota willfully withheld documents that would have damaged its defense. The case involved a Texas woman who was killed when her Toyota Land Cruiser lurched backward and pinned her against a garage. Toyota told attorneys for the woman’s family that it did not know of any similar cases, but less that a year earlier, it had settled a nearly identical Texas lawsuit involving a preacher who suffered serious injuries when his Land Cruiser abruptly backed over him. Under common discovery rules, the company had a legal obligation to tell the plaintiff’s counsel about the similar case when this information was formally requested.

This investigation comes at a challenging time for the automaker, which is struggling to rectify serious safety and reliability problems in many of its most popular models in the U.S. and abroad. The growing evidence that the company knowingly suppressed evidence that would damage its defense in product liability lawsuits is especially troubling and could lead to even more damage to its reputation. If you or someone you care for has been injured due to a Toyota defect, Toyota recall accident lawyer James O. Cunningham may be able to help. He has more than three decades of experience taking on large corporations and their legal teams. He is a staunch advocate for those who have suffered injury due to a company’s defective products. Call Toyota recall accident attorney James O. Cunningham today to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options.

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James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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