Our Chicago wrongful death attorneys have come to expect the corporations of the world to engage in delay and spin, while gambling with the lives of consumers (aka, the public). Thus it comes as no surprise to learn of continuing revelations from Toyota Motor Corporation, which demonstrate just how much the company is willing to do to protect its bottom line.
Just today, a wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota was filed claiming that a defective keyless ignition system in a luxury Lexus vehicle caused the carbon monoxide poisoning death of a 79-year-old New York lawyer.
Last week, Toyota announced yet another recall – this time the recall of around 1.5 million vehicles, both Lexus and Toyota models. The recall was prompted by brake-fluid and fuel-pump problems. The vehicles involved range from the 2004 to 2006 model years. Although there have not yet been any injuries or deaths associated with these problems, it seems that it is only luck that has kept it that way. The brake-fluid problem can lead to “spongy” brakes and eventual brake failure, while the fuel-pump issue can cause engine stalls. Either of these problems could easily lead to motor vehicle accidents or wrongful death.
This is only the latest in a frightening string of recalls by Toyota – all within the past year. The first and best known of these recalls involved a a series of vehicles whose accelerators could become stuck. The next Toyota recall involved Toyota SUVs and pickups whose steering systems can break, causing drivers to lose control of the vehicles. Then, in July, the third recent Toyota recall hit. In that recall, Toyota recalled about 270,000 Lexus and other luxury vehicles with potentially defective valve springs, which can cause engine failure.
Toyota waited at least four months, after learning of the phenomenally dangerous accelerator defect, before informing U.S. authorities. As to the steering system defect in SUVs and pickups, the public later learned that Toyota waited at least a year before learning of the defects before it informed U.S. authorities. And with the recall of the luxury vehicles, Toyota waited an astounding three years between learning of the defect and informing U.S. authorities.
Now, it seems that the problems run even deeper. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers have learned that this time, Toyota waited five years – yes, five years – between first learning of the brake-fluid problems and issuing last week’s recall. The first reports of the problem began to reach Toyota in 2005, yet it is only now, near the end of 2010, that the company has deigned to share this information with the U.S. authorities and the public.
Shockingly, Toyota has defended this delay, stating that the possible brake failures did not pose “an unreasonable safety risk.” We are appalled, but not surprised, by this lack of concern for the lives and welfare of customers – and those in the path of their unbrakeable vehicles.
This simply cannot be allowed to continue. Although Toyota has taken a hit in U.S. sales, and been levied a large fine by U.S. authorities, the company remains the world’s top automaker. Indeed, although the company’s global sales dropped slightly in the months following the announcement of the first, accelerator-based recall, the company still made over a billion dollars that quarter. And, in spite of the subsequent recalls, sales rebounded, with the company raking it is usual $2.2 billion in the subsequent quarter – the most recent for which data is yet available.
Simply put, these continuing obscene profits give the automaker no real incentive to take safety seriously. Until U.S. authorities, U.S. consumers, and, most importantly, U.S. victims truly begin to stand up to this automotive Goliath, nothing will change. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed by a defective Toyota vehicle, we urge you to come forward, and to take action against the company. Perhaps this is the only way to send the message that this will not be tolerated, and that the company will be made to pay for its disregard of our lives.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago product liability lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.