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Toyota Agrees to Pay Fine For Delaying Disclosure of Gas Pedal Defects

Photo of Brant Stogner

Now, the car manufacturer has agreed to pay a record $16.4 million fine for not disclosing safety defects regarding sudden accelerations in over 2 million of its vehicles. However, Toyota will stop short of accepting full legal responsibility for intentionally withholding the safety information.
After learning that the accelerator pedals in some of its vehicles could stick and cause unwanted acceleration, Toyota waited for a least four months to disclosing this information to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Under current federal law, Toyota was supposed to disclose this information within five business days.
Even though Toyota will agree to pay the fine, it is not clear whether the written agreement that governs the fine would include an admission by Toyota that it violated the law. Such an admission would be important because Toyota faces a multitude of personal injury and class action lawsuits alleging that safety defects in its vehicles have caused crashes, injuries, and fatalities. What is truly shocking about Toyota's behavior is that Toyota may have even known about these defects for approximately three years prior to informing U.S. authorities. Interestingly, Toyota sent instructions to its European operations in September of 2009 that explained how to fix accelerator pedals that could stick but decided not to also notify U.S. dealers and government regulators, according to an April 5 letter from the NHTSA attorneys to Toyota.

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