Legislator says carmaker withheld data
WASHINGTON - A House lawmaker said yesterday that internal Toyota documents show the automaker deliberately withheld key vehicle design and testing evidence in lawsuits filed by Toyota drivers injured in crashes.
In a letter to Toyota’s top North American executive, House oversight committee chairman Edolphus Towns accused Toyota of shielding its testing data on potential problems with Toyota vehicles. Towns wrote that Toyota chose to enter hefty settlements with plaintiffs to avoid disclosing the database, which the lawmaker said was referred to as the “Books of Knowledge.’’
The Toyota documents “show a systematic disregard for the law and routine violation of court discovery orders in litigation,’’ Towns wrote in the letter to Yoshimi Inaba.
Toyota said in a statement that it is confident it acted appropriately in product liability lawsuits and it looks forward to addressing Towns’s concerns. The automaker said it is not uncommon for companies to object to demands for documents made in lawsuits.
Inaba and Toyota president Akio Toyoda appeared before the committee on Wednesday, the second of two House hearings this week on Toyota’s recall of 8.5 million vehicles over safety concerns.
Toyota turned over thousands of internal documents before the hearings.
A third Toyota hearing is scheduled for next week in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.