The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today that it would levy the largest fine in history on Toyota Motor Corporation for its failure in reporting a pertinent gas pedal defect that led to sudden acceleration accidents. Overall, the NHTSA will seek a civil penalty of nearly $16.4 million.
While Toyota could contest the penalty, the Obama administration contends that Toyota failed to notify federal authorities of the defect in the gas pedals, despite knowing of the potential risks to consumers. In fact, while auto manufacturers are legally required to notify NHTSA within five business days of discovering a safety defect, Toyota internal documents show that the motor company waited at least four months.
According to the documents obtained by NHTSA investigators, Toyota knew of the defect in the gas pedals since September 29, 2009. The same day, Toyota issued repair procedures for 31 European countries and Canada, but failed to take any such measures for consumers in the United States. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, recently stated:
“We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations. Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families. For those reasons, we are seeking the maximum penalty possible under current laws.”
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.