Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Toyota Motor Corp. took to the Internet on Thursday to attack the evidence raised by plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Santa Ana, Calif.-based multidistrict litigation arising from reports of sudden unintended acceleration by Toyota vehicles. Joel Smith of Bowman and Brooke, lead defense counsel in the personal injury and wrongful death cases contained in MDL, appeared during a press conference broadcast over the Internet to argue that the plaintiffs basically have no case beyond “unspecified allegations.” The presentation for journalists came on the eve of a hearing on Toyota’s motion to dismiss. Smith highlighted two field technical reports that the plaintiffs cite in their complaint. The plaintiffs contend that those documents confirm that Toyota knew about problems with its electronic throttle control system years before the alleged defect became public knowledge, but they in fact discuss problems with mechanical throttles, Smith said. One of the documents even shows a picture of a mechanical throttle, he said. The plaintiffs, he argued, were cherry-picking their evidence — “identifying only the information that will be inflammatory.” The plaintiffs’ lawyers either misunderstand the documents “or don’t care” about the accuracy of their evidence. Similarly, he said, fatal crashes attributed by the plaintiffs’ lawyers to sudden unintended acceleration could be explained by other factors — advanced age of the drivers, for example, or a mother distracted by small child. “The big secret is that the plaintiffs do not have a theory of defect,” Smith said. “Our electronic throttle control system is not defective.” Smith said that his intent was to reassure the public about Toyota’s products and stand up for the honor of Toyota’s employees. “We’re not only here to defend the product,” he said. “We’re here to defend them. The MDL contains more than 200 economic class actions brought on behalf of consumers and businesses and about 100 personal injury and wrongful death claims. Asked for comment, Steve Berman, managing partner of Seattle’s Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, co-liaison counsel of the plaintiffs’ steering committee for the economic class actions in the MDL, issued the following prepared statement: “It appears that Toyota hand-selected those it wanted to watch today’s presentation. They did not provide the plaintiffs or the general public that privilege, so it is impossible for us to comment on their claims,” he said. “There is no surprise, though, about the timing of this — tomorrow Toyota appears before the court in a major hearing. Toyota is betting that by foisting this new barrage of propaganda, they somehow will be able to sway the court through media coverage. This ham-handed tactic is right in line with Toyota’s overall strategy. The issue of unintended acceleration screams for transparency by the car maker. Instead Toyota responds with obfuscation and manipulation.” Michael Moline can be contacted at [email protected].

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.