Recalls prompt U.S. Government to propose $16M civil penalty against Toyota

Legal News for Product Liability Attorneys. The U.S. Government proposed a fine against Toyota for failing to immediately disclose information regarding defects.

News for product liability attorneys- NHTSA probe into safety defects prompted U.S. Government to pose fines against Toyota Motor Corp.

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Government has proposed a $16.4 million fine against Toyota Motor Corp. for its failure to notify transportation officials of a “dangerous defect” in certain Toyota vehicles. Toyota was required to notify National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) authorities of the defect within five days of discovering it, but instead waited several months to do so. U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood announced the proposed penalties on Monday, April 5, 2010, according to information provided by MSNBC.

After Toyota announced the recall of 2.3 million vehicles due to sticking accelerator pedals in January, officials from the Department of Transportation insisted the automotive giant turn over internal documents regarding how and when Toyota discovered such safety defects. Toyota’s confidential documents revealed the manufacturer was aware of hazardous sticking pedals since at least September 29, 2009. The automobile producer subsequently informed dealerships in 31 European countries, as well as Canada, that repairs concerning the known defects were to be underway. However, although Toyota was indeed aware of similar issues in vehicles owned by U.S. customers, a recall was not announced in the U.S. until the end of January, according to documents.

With regard to the proposed penalty of $16.375 million, which is the maximum fine the government can issue for sticking gas pedals, a Toyota spokesperson reportedly stated, “While we have not yet received their letter, we understand that NHTSA has taken a position on this recall… We have already taken a number of important steps to improve our communications with regulators and customers on safety-related matters as a part of our strengthened overall commitment to quality assurance.” Toyota reportedly has two weeks to either accept or contest the proposed fines, while the manufacturer may face additional fines pending further investigations.

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan- Legal News for Product Liability Lawyers.

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