What was Toyota doing about unintended acceleration five years ago? Congress
subpoenaed tens of thousands of pages of documents for its hearing on
runaway Toyotas and has begun to sift through them. New York Congressman¬†Towns
has come across some memos he finds alarming. Towns has sent a letter
to the president of Toyota asking him to explain the memos which seem
to suggest that in 2005, about five years ago, Toyota settled some lawsuits
to avoid having to provide information about unintended acceleration in
discovery (the process where parties in lawsuits get to see each other’s papers).
There’s also some suggestion in the memos that at least some people in the U.S. Toyota operations were hoping that the class action lawsuits would encourage Toyota to fix the problem. Towns quotes one Toyota memo as saying: “the possibility of a class action lawsuit was used as one way to try to get TMC [Toyota Motor Company] to work on a series of proposed countermeasures.” That was five years ago, before the so many deaths and injuries attributed to unintended acceleration took place.
Toyota has apparently requested that these memos and others like them be kept confidential.
Toyota has been talking a great deal about openness on this issue. Time will tell if they are now truly interested in answers, rather than cover-up.
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