The Detroit Free Press and BBC News have reported that prosecutors in Orange County, California will sue Toyota because Toyota knew about defects in several Toyota model lines, but did not tell consumers.
From the BBC:
Officials in Orange County, in southern California, claim Toyota knew of defects with the acceleration system in several models, but did not tell customers.
"We’ll be alleging in court, on behalf of the people of Orange County, that Toyota knowingly sold cars and trucks with defects that caused Toyotas to accelerate suddenly and uncontrollably," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Toyota’s US headquarters are in California – that is why prosecutors say they can bring charges and it is thought to be the first such case based on US consumer protection laws.
It is claimed the company carried out fraud by hiding evidence of dangerous vehicle defects.
Meanwhile federal investigators are examining if there are grounds for criminal charges.
From the Detroit Free Press:
SANTA ANA, Calif. — Orange County prosecutors say they’ll file a lawsuit against Toyota because of continuing problems with their vehicles.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas says the company continues to endanger the public through sale of defective vehicles and deceptive business practices.
California may be the first state to go after Toyota for hiding evidence of the sudden acceleration problem, but it’s not likely to be the last. Federal prosecutors are considering criminal charges against Toyota.
Since the beginning, Toyota has been more focused on protecting its image and covering its [rear] than making sure its vehicles are safe for Toyota owners and other innocent drivers. Toyota has gone so far as to provide its litigation defense lawyers with an unlimited budget to attack any report that suggests Toyota’s electronics could cause sudden acceleration. Toyota’s attorneys designed the testing to protect Toyota rather than to protect Toyota drivers.
Throughout the sudden acceleration time line, one thing has been consistent: Toyota has consistently misled the public about the nature and severity of the Toyota sudden acceleration problem. When given the opportunity to come forward with information, Toyota has chosen lie after lie after lie.
The Detroit Free Press has documented how Toyota has stonewalled the investigation of these problems since at least 2003. Now, Toyota has said its own data recorders are not reliable. What are these black boxes saying that has Toyota withholding this evidence?
After dragging its feet and being called "safety deaf" on the sudden acceleration recall, Toyota did it again when Toyota knew of the problems with its Prius brakes long before warning its drivers, customers and innocent motorists.
It is time that Toyota is finally held accountable for putting profits over safety and for putting money ahead of human life.
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.