Toyota fined $16,375,000.00 for failure to report deadly pedal defect. Will this deter other car manufacturers from hiding their problems?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has fined Toyota more than sixteen million dollars for their failure to disclose their knowledge of a deadly gas pedal defect of which they were aware. NHTSA has instituted more than 500 vehicle recalls in the last three years involving more than 23 million vehicles.

The civil fine represented an acknowledgement that Toyota had violated federal laws designed to encourage vehicle manufacturers to report problems to reduce injuries and fatalities.

There is inevitably a tension between manufacturers desire to avoid costly recalls which often result in litigation and the need to have a reliable, prompt mechanism for recognizing and correcting safety defects.

Toyota's behavior seemed especially reprehensible as they has received many reports of problems dating back for a number of years. Doubtless the wrongful death and injury trials will focus on this behavior but it won't bring back those who lost their lives unnecessarily.

The inevitable question will, the fine make any difference ? Toyota had become the world's largest car maker and the fine is a crumb compared to the vast profits they reaped, often at the expense of American car builders.

This may be an example of the necessity of a vigorous civil justice system, where criminally negligent manufacturers disgorge their ill-gotten profits by way of exemplary or punitive damages
Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer