The lemon law was created to protect consumers in the scenario they purchase a defective product. It holds the manufacturer or warrantor accountable and obligates them to make it right. If the consumer is David and the manufacturer is Goliath, the lemon law is the slingshot that takes the giant down.
Unfortunately, it’s not always so simple – in fact, it’s rarely ever clear-cut.
A few weeks ago, Michael Posada, a former WilmerHale attorney – who now works for the White House – was subpoenaed by Florida State Court. A former temp accused Posada of lying under oath to help Toyota cover-up devious practices overseas in Thailand.
These practices included hiding defects in a few of the models.
On Tuesday, February 16th, Michael Posada was subpoenaed in a case brought forth by Andrew Delaney – former Big Law attorney who worked under WilmerHale’s guidance on an internal investigation of Toyota.
Posada is one of several ex-WilmerHale attorneys called to testify in Florida State Court for the case.
In the alleged cover-up, Delaney claims that Posada falsely told a judge in a sealed hearing that he was not aware of the allegations of which Toyota engaged in corruption in Thailand.
The corruption is alleged to include hiding knowledge of serious car defects from consumers. Posada oversaw a document review that (allegedly) raised concerns within Toyota about liability in relation to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Toyota is no stranger to hiding defects. Back in 2012, the company was hit with a $1.2 billion fine by the US DOJ for covering up sticky accelerator pedals. This was to avoid prosecution.
In a December filing, Delaney had cited a 2018 recall over faulty wiring and connected his cover-up allegation to internal Toyota documents he had read for the project. Delaney’s claims were based on years of experience working in Thailand – and the relationships he’s built with people who have worked directly with Toyota.
Among the Thai people, there is alleged public knowledge of the company’s corruption.
When Posada was asked during the December hearing about his knowledge of press reports and government investigations into Toyota’s corrupt practices, he repeatedly responded with “I don’t know” – according to a petition filed by Delaney’s lawyer.
Posada is one of four ex-WilmerHale attorneys – of whom are working on the White House Counsel – to be subpoenaed in attempts to unseal court documents in Delaney’s whistleblower lawsuit. The suit names Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota, and the company as the defendants.
On Monday, February 22, a Florida state judge declined to unseal allegations of corruption against Toyota by Delaney. The case is currently ongoing.
What Does it Mean?
Toyota has been caught hiding defects from customers in the past.
This begs the question: how widespread is this phenomenon?
Toyota is hardly alone in covering up defects. Back in 2010, the Chevy Cobalt had ignition switches that would randomly shut the car off at speed. This deactivated critical safety systems, including airbags, anti-lock brakes, and more.
Like many scandals with manufacturing defects, GM knew of this issue back in 2004. However, fixing the issue would be too costly.
So, what did they do about it?
GM replaced the defective part with an updated one – with the same serial number. In other words, they provided a cheap band-aid fix. After nine years and a number of deaths, GM was forced to issue 2.6 million recalls. After years of battles in the courtroom, GM agreed to pay $120 million to settle the case.
Regardless of how the Toyota case shakes out, the common thread in all of these allegations and history of negligence reinforces a fundamental reality: big corporations will stop at nothing to avoid consequences for their mistakes.
Now, are automakers inherently evil?
Are they ruthless predators working deviously to rip off consumers?
Will they do everything in their power to avoid buybacks, protect their bottom line, and preserve their reputation for quality assurance?
In my opinion—Absolutely.
No one ever thinks their going to drive off the lot with a lemon. Truth be told, consumer ignorance on the law is the manufacturer’s greatest weapon. To protect your safety and your pocketbook, you need to understand how the lemon law can help you avoid getting ripped off, injured, or worse.
The lesson from this story is simple.
When you buy a defective car, the big automakers do not have your back. And chances are, they have big-time connections that have their backs.
The truth of the matter is the only person that will be on your side if you purchase a defective car is a specialized lemon law lawyer.
No matter how automakers try to cover up negligence in the manufacturing process, seasoned lemon attorneys know every trick the big corporations have up their sleeves. They will fight for you every step of the way to get you the full compensation you deserve.
If you have even the slightest hunch that your new or used vehicle is defective, don’t hesitate to reach out to Cline APC. Our experienced California lemon law lawyers will answer any questions you might have and help steer you in the right direction.
No matter what your situation is, we’ve got your back.