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Reporter finds that Toyota keeps tight lid on product safety issues

A Los Angeles Times investigation recently showed that Toyota has delayed product recalls and attempted to blame human error in product liability cases where owners claimed vehicle defects. Toyota is the world’s largest automaker, so this finding could potentially affect many individuals. Toyotas are seen all over Chicago. One example that the article cited was Toyota’s test of its Sienna minivan in 2003. During a routine test, engineers found a product defect – that a plastic panel could come loose and cause the gas pedal to stick. This was hazardous because it potentially make the vehicle accelerate out of control. While Toyota redesigned that part, Toyota did not notify the tens of thousands of people who had already bought vans with the old panel. It was not until U.S. safety officials opened an investigation last year that Toyota acknowledged in a letter to regulators that the part could come loose and lead to unwanted or sudden acceleration. Nearly six years after discovering the potential hazard, in January 2009, the automaker recalled over 25,000 vans with the old panel.

In the wake of the massive product recall announcement, the Times examined some of the ways the automaker dealt with safety problems in the past and found that the automaker knew of a dangerous steering defect for years before issuing a recall in Japan in 2004. They also found that a former Toyota lawyer has sued the automaker, accusing it of engaging in a calculated conspiracy to prevent the disclosure of damaging evidence.

Because Toyota cars are so popular in Chicago, the attorneys at Levin & Perconti urge you to read the full article available here.