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Brett Emison
Brett Emison
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Toyota SUV "Safety Risk": The Next Ford Explorer?


We learned earlier this week that Consumer Reports declared the Toyota-made Lexus GX460 a "safety risk" because of stability problems. Is Toyota’s SUV the next Ford Explorer?

The Ford Explorer has a long history of rollover and stability problems. A southern California jury recently awarded more than $23 million to a 38 year old woman who was paralyzed when her Ford Explorer became unstable, ran off the road and overturned. InjuryBoard member, Bob Langdon, showed the jury that Ford knew about the Explorer’s stability problem and even spent $3.5 million correcting the problem in Venezuela, but ignored the problem and refused to fix Ford Explorers in the United States.

Specifically, they introduced evidence showing that Ford spent $3.5 million correcting the defect in Venezuela, but chose to ignore the fix recommended by its own engineers and not to spend the $500 million needed to fix the Explorers in North America.

Like the Ford Explorer, the Toyota-made Lexus GX460 has been shown to have a stability problem. Like Ford, Toyota has chosen to fix known product defects in other countries before fixing the problem in the United States.

Last week, we learned that a top Toyota executive warned the company that it needed "to come clean" about its sudden acceleration problem before Toyota ever told safety regulators at NHTSA or the American public about the problem. We already knew that Toyota warned European drivers about Toyota’s "sticky pedal" problem before warning those of us in the United States. I have documented for months that Toyota denied and ignored the sudden acceleration problem for more than five years.

Just today, there is another report that Toyota recalled its Venza vehicle in Canada nearly two months before recalling the very same vehicles in the United States.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Toyota Motor Corp. recalled its Venza in Canada late last year because of floor mats that could entrap the gas pedal, but it did not launch a similar recall in the U.S. until six weeks later, records show.

The delay has caught the attention of federal regulators, who last week fined Toyota a record $16.4 million for failing to promptly recall 2.3 million vehicles to correct problems that could lead to sudden acceleration.

Under U.S. law, automakers have five business days to notify the government after finding a potential defect — a regulation that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has indicated it will strictly enforce.

Why do auto manufacturers keep putting profits ahead of human lives? Why do these manufacturers keep fixing defective cars in other countries before (or without) fixing the exact same problems here in the United States? Are Venezuelan lives worth more than American lives? Are European lives worth more than American lives?

We need to hold these companies accountable for their actions and ensure that no more innocent drivers or passengers are injured or killed because these companies put money ahead of human life or decided to fix defects in other countries but not here in the US.

You can learn more at our safety blog and become a fan of Langdon & Emison on Facebook.


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  1. Mr Toyota says:
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    “Why do auto manufacturers keep putting profits ahead of human lives? Why do these manufacturers keep fixing defective cars in other countries before (or without) fixing the exact same problems here in the United States?”

    So greedy money hungry lawyers like yourself can rape and pillage for your own selfish benefit.
    How much do you expect to gross off of this deal?
    Why don’t you come clean and tell us all? Your no better than Toyota or any other big company……you represent the people, no you want to line your pockets just like anyone else.
    Get off your high horse and give it a rest.

  2. Brett Emison says:
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    Mr. Toyota,

    I never know exactly how to respond to a comment such as yours, though I am certain I must respond. I closed my eyes, counted to ten and said a little prayer before responding to your comment.

    You have hidden behind anonymity… giving a false name. You have called me greedy, money hungry, a rapist. You have suggested that I yearn for tragedy and death to make a buck. I wonder what tragic event occurred in your life to cause you to speak this way publicly about someone you have never met.

    You have resorted to name calling and personal insults and, thus, have betrayed your true character and motivation. I will not respond in kind. I will only say this:

    You, sir, do not know me. You, sir, do not know my motivation. Shame on you, sir.

    You have libeled and disparaged my name, yet it is you — “Mr. Toyota” — who defends this multi-billion dollar foreign corporation that has directly caused the death of more than 100 people (for sudden acceleration problems alone); that lied to safety inspectors; that lied to the American people; that fixed cars in Canada, in Europe, in Russia, in the former Soviet Georgia Republic… all before even acknowledging the very same problems here in the United States. This is who you defend and why you hurl personal attacks.

    You are correct that I am a trial attorney. I wear that badge proudly. At the top of each of my posts I have my photo, my name, my telephone number and, yes, the fact that I am an attorney. I do not hide behind false names like “Mr. Toyota”.

    Yes, like every other hard working American, I get paid for what I do. There are many things I could do. I could defend corporations. I could broker transactions. I could review contracts. In fact, I have done all of those things… and I have not found any previous work I have done remotely as uplifting and personally gratifying as helping someone truly in need.

    You see, its not just about the money for me. It’s about giving someone their life back and keeping people safe. At my law firm, we don’t just talk the talk. A few years ago, our firm received a $17 million verdict for one our clients against Ford in a reclined seat case. After the verdict, our client offered to return half of the money to Ford if Ford would only insert a sticker warning users to not recline their seat while the vehicle was moving. Guess what… Ford refused. You can see the story at (http://www.wral.com/5onyourside/story/131917/) and you can see the CBS Early Show coverage at (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/10/earlyshow/main1195540.shtml).

    I am proud of my work helping real people whose lives have been ruined by tragedy. I am proud that I have helped the families of those who have been injured, paralyzed, maimed, burned and killed — not by any fault of their own — but by the fault of others. I am proud that I take the personal risk and responsibility for giving my clients back just a portion of the life they have lost. None of my clients ever asked for their fate. I am proud to be a trial attorney.

    I hope that we might be able to engage in a courteous and productive dialogue. There is no place in constructive discourse for insults and slurs such as you have made.

    Thank you, sir, for taking the time to read.