Toyota may just have been caught with its hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Corporate blower of whistles and former Toyota Motor Sales USA (a "product liability group") managing counsel Dimitrios Biller has apparently brought a few documents to light - documents the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee finds "troubling".
According to panel chairman Ed Towns (D-NY), the documents "indicate Toyota deliberately withheld records that it was legally required to produce in response to discovery orders in litigation... [The] documents concern 'rollover' cases in which a driver or passenger was injured, including cases where victims were paralyzed."
Furthermore, "the Biller documents indicate [Toyota's] systematic disregard for the law and routine violation of court discovery orders in litigation... Moreover, this also raises very serious questions as to whether Toyota has also withheld substantial, relevant information from NHTSA."
It seems as if a court in Texas put a gag order out on Mr. Biller (do I sound like a lawyer or what?), but a Congressional subpoena came in and took over in order to get to the truth. Towns says he hopes Biller will bring to light information regarding Toyota's hiding "evidence of safety defects from consumers and regulators, and foster[ing] a culture of 'hypocrisy and deceit."
For people keeping up with this debacle, you may hear the term "Books of Knowledge". This refers not to the Indiana Jones trilogy, but to digital records "in which Toyota engineers kept their design and testing data across all vehicle lines and parts."
Sounds normal; companies keeping their secrets secret. Not really a problem, until evidence is found that Toyota may have settled multiple multi-million dollar lawsuits when they learned that victims' lawyers were on the path of discovering the "Books".
Towns asked Toyota to respond to the issues raised by the documents by Friday, March 12, with the Japanese automaker saying that it would.
- By Phil Alex
Via: Detroit News