Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dealer speaks out against automakers being allowed to keep defects quiet

Update 3/1/2015 - GREAT VIDEO by NBC's WRC-TV: The dealer says that in the past, auto manufacturers have punished him financially for speaking out.

One of the auto industry's most appalling practices involves refusing to inform customers about known defects. Generally speaking, it falls under the heading "secret warranties," and Jack Fitzgerald, president of Fitzgerald's Auto Malls in Maryland is speaking out against the practice. Refusal to divulge defect information to customers is a racket that's been going on for decades.

Mr. Fitzgerald is uniquely qualified to address the issue since his dealership is massive in size and handles all brands. As one would expect, his efforts to promote free speech and full disclosure are being opposed by the auto industry.

Of course, the larger point is that keeping defects secret amounts to fraud, and should have been outlawed long ago at the federal level. The fact that automakers can get away with such crookedness further evidences the fact that our current system of government - local, state, and federal - is controlled not by the people it deceitfully claims to represent, but by powerful special interests such as those associated with the auto industry. Meanwhile, the blood-spattered scandals of murderous corporations like Toyota, GM, Takata, etc. ad nauseum continue unabated as the "Just Us" Department keeps watch to make sure no auto executive winds up in prison.

Were it not for public safety implications, it would be laughable that an auto dealer must ask government for permission to warn customers about manufacturing defects. Mr. Fitzgerald is to be applauded for daring to speak out against such a pervasively corrupt system.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Manufacturing defect + Koua Fong Lee's account + similar accounts of runaway '96 Camrys = 100% Toyota's fault

It doesn't make sense to hold Koua Fong Lee 40% accountable for the tragic accident that claimed the lives of three people. You can't have it both ways. Either the vehicle had a manufacturing defect in the accelerator assembly or it didn't. The jury ruled that it did, giving credence to testimony given by Lee as well as other drivers who said they had unintended acceleration problems with '96 Camrys. So how on earth did the jury jump from agreeing with the crux of Koua's case to concluding that he was 40% at fault for the accident? It's anybody's guess as to how such a thing happened, and I certainly hope the miscarriage of justice is remedied on appeal.

The entire matter boils down to corroborating evidence of Lee's account of what happened. Fact is, such evidence has been there by the boatload ever since the accident occurred. The penniless immigrant was railroaded from the get go, and the disgraceful spectacle continued throughout his effort to sue Toyota - an admitted crook that deserves to be known as the Coverup King of the automotive industry - for a manufacturing defect.

Koua's lawsuit was stymied at the outset by a ridiculous legal shenanigan which took away his right to claim punitive damages. If anyone ever deserved punitive damages from an automaker, it's Koua Fong Lee, who spent a whopping two and a half years in prison as a consequence of Toyota's now-established manufacturing defect. And don't hand me any nonsense about shifting the blame for Lee's incarceration to Minnesota's sorry excuse for a justice system, then cleverly passing false imprisonment costs along to the taxpaying public. It's time automakers - especially admitted crooks like Toyota - are held accountable to the Nth degree for the consequences - both direct and indirect - resulting from manufacturing defects. Lee was further hamstrung by not being allowed to claim Toyota was guilty of a cover-up. Never mind complaints lodged with NHTSA about unintended acceleration in '96 Camrys. And don't dare to breath a word about the Coverup King - er I mean Toyota - pleading guilty to that federal fraud charge for misleading safety investigators about defective products.

Of course, "Judge Ann" quickly instructed the jury that it couldn't consider Lee's time in prison, nor the automaker's headline-grabbing parade of recalls, some of which resulted in record-setting fines for delays in reporting safety defects. Rounding out the picture, Lee's attorney's plans to present at additional witnesses were also quashed by the ever vigilant "Judge Ann," who kept a watchful eye lest a filthy rich corporate crook - at last count harboring $60 billion just in cash - be treated unfairly. If only folks had the same degree of concern for penniless immigrants and taxpaying citizens...

At one point, the kindly judge even assisted Toyota's attorney during a cross-examination of the hapless immigrant whose "peers" on the jury, I hasten to add, did not include anyone of Hmong descent. But perhaps "Judge Ann's" most notable "assistance" was allowing Toyota to present sworn depositions regarding that crux-of-the-case manufacturing defect. I'm sure the good judge wasn't aware of the fact that it's kinda difficult to conduct a cross-examination of a deposition. No wonder an Associated Press investigation concluded that Toyota uses evasion as a legal tactic.  Moreover, according to Lee's attorney Bob Hilliard, Toyota spent "tens of millions" of dollars in an effort to "frame" his client.   

Don't get me wrong. Given the lopsided advantages granted to Toyota, it's a miracle the jury established that a manufacturing defect did exist, found Toyota 60% responsible for the accident, and awarded $11.4 million to the plaintiffs, $2.2 million of which will go to Lee. For all that, I'm exceedingly grateful. Unfortunately, the fact remains that many lives have been lost and shattered, the tragic nature of which was addressed quite admirably by a downcast and sorrowful Koua Fong Lee immediately after the verdict. 

Toyota, there are some things money just can't buy.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fire risk exposed in Toyota Avalon - lapdog NHTSA remains silent

Jessie Powell, one of Toyota's many outraged customers, has been blogging about her ongoing nightmare - she's now suing Toyota - that began after she bought a Prius. Jessie Powell's journey - like mine - opened her eyes to "the rest of the story" when it comes to mistreating customers the "Toyota Way."

Jessie has picketed in front of Toyota dealerships wearing a lemon costume, and does an excellent job of exposing various issues associated with the Coverup King. She has produced a wonderful blog post about the fire risk that's now been exposed in 2011-2012 Toyota Avalons, and underscores the fact that NHTSA - the auto industry's little lapdog - has not seen fit to warn the public. Complete with historical perspective and hard-hitting graphics, Jessie's post is wunna those must reads:

http://jessiepowell.blogspot.com/2015/01/reminders-of-pintos-exploding-gas-tank.html

Monday, January 12, 2015

Admit it, Toyota: The Camry's sudden surge is what "startled" Koua Fong Lee

Please spread the word: There may be hope yet for folks who were victimized by Toyota regarding the "pre-cat" manufacturing defect in MR2 Spyders.
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Leave it to the attorneys for an admitted crook to try to pull a fast one in court. As Koua Fong Lee's lawsuit got underway, Toyota's attorney tried to fool the jury into thinking that "when Lee took the off-ramp, he was startled (emphasis mine) by many cars in front of him and stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake." The guise is based on a fallacious 1989 "study" by NHTSA - the automotive industry's little lapdog - that blabbers about unintended acceleration events coming about because the driver is "distracted" or "startled."

A common-sense analysis shows how utterly absurd the notion is, especially when applied to unintended acceleration events that happen on highways, when the driver's foot is most assuredly already on the accelerator, as was the case with Koua Fong Lee. What makes NHTSA's much-ballyhooed "study" so ridiculous is the fact that no explanation is offered regarding precisely why a "distracted" driver would respond by pushing more forcefully on the accelerator pedal.

What actually happens is confirmed by electrical engineer Dr. Antony Anderson in his lengthy and highly detailed study of unintended acceleration events. The driver is "distracted" or "startled" by the sudden surge in the vehicle's SPEED. Because the driver's foot is already on the accelerator, it's implausible - indeed, it's ridiculous - to assert that the driver would respond by pressing harder on the accelerator pedal. Such blabber was cooked up by NHTSA and the automotive industry as part of a well-orchestrated effort to dupe the public. As anyone who's driven a vehicle knows, in such a situation the spontaneous response would be to stomp on the brake pedal. And during Koua's appeal for a re-trial, it was demonstrated - by a burnt brake light filament - that he did just that when his 1996 Camry suddenly picked up speed as he exited the highway.

Another issue the NHTSA blabber conveniently avoids is the fact that runaway vehicles are exceedingly difficult - if not impossible - to stop. Consumer Reports' engineers "found that it's difficult to stop some vehicles with a stuck throttle at highway speeds by pressing on the brakes alone." As did highway patrolman Saylor - the doomed driver of the runaway Lexus ES 350 whose screams for help were caught on a 911 recording - Koua too began screaming that he couldn't stop the car.

What's important to bear in mind is evidence galore confirming Coverup King Toyota's dishonest behavior when the now admitted crook argues a case in court. An Associated Press investigation, concluding that Toyota "has routinely engaged in questionable, evasive and deceptive legal tactics when sued" is apparently an understatement.

I'll say it again: Koua Fong Lee still needs all the luck he can get.

Update 1/13/2015 - The burnt filament in Koua's brake light - proving that Koua had his foot on the brake - was spotlighted in yesterday's testimony by an expert witness. Of course, this had already been established during Koua's bid for a re-trial prior to charges against him being dismissed. Nonetheless, it's appalling that such testimony hasn't been headlined by mainstream media.

Update 1/14/2015 - A mysterious pause in Koua's lawsuit took place yesterday, and it's rumored that Toyota is trying to settle the case out of court. If there's anything admitted crook and Coverup King Toyota can't stand, it's the truth, and lots of it has been coming out since Koua's lawsuit started. Nobody should be surprised if wunna Toyota's "confidential" settlements is reached in an obvious effort to shut things up. Bear in mind that Toyota has been in "settlement mode" ever since that landmark unintended acceleration trial in Oklahoma unveiled evidence of electronic defects in the Coverup King's throttle control: "After the Oklahoma verdict, Toyota's (settlement offer) increased substantially." Stay tuned. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Admitted-crook Toyota granted unfair advantage in Koua Fong Lee's lawsuit

Please spread the word: There may be hope yet for folks who were victimized by Toyota regarding the "pre-cat" manufacturing defect in MR2 Spyders.
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tt was a hoot watchin' Amerika's so-called justice system exposed for the sham it is when unjustly imprisoned Toyota driver Koua Fong Lee appealed for a re-trial. The public unveiling of how Lee's case was handled confirmed the railroading of a penniless immigrant who found himself at the mercy - or lack thereof - of a pervasively corrupt system ramrodded by the incompetent, the uncaring, the politically motivated, and those hapless souls infected with this country's heritage of racism, which got underway with the American Indian. Evidence abounds - including some of the comments on news articles - that folks of Hmong descent best watch their step 'round the "Twin Cities" of Minnesota.

Once the sham of Lee's "conviction" was exposed - amidst picketing outside the courtroom, and a Facebook page committed to seeing Lee released from prison - there was little the good judge could do except free a guy who had beaten the odds when it comes to reversing injustice. And of course, with Lee winning his bid for a re-trial, his politically astute persecutor - er I mean prosecutor - suddenly saw the light and dropped all charges. She knew better than risk another trial, and that's well and good. But how many other "Koua Fong Lees" are rotting away in Amerika's corporate, run-for-profit prisons? How many other unjustly-imprisoned folks are lucky enough to have a conscientious newspaper reporter intervene, round up high-priced attorneys willing to work pro-bono and stick with the case through thick and thin?

So now we come to the Grand Opening of Lee's well-founded-if-ever-there-was lawsuit, not against Toyota, but against admitted crook Toyota. An automaker unparalleled in the annals of automotive history when it comes to lawsuits galore, congressional inquiries, record-setting fines, retaliation against whistleblowers, dirty deals with auto-industry-stooge NHTSA, and the foul-smelling list goes on ad nauseum, topped off by Toyota's guilty plea to a federal fraud charge, accompanied by $1.2 billion worth of payola forked over to a crooked government in exchange for an end to a federal investigation that threatened to blow the lid regarding evidence of electronic defects in Toyota's throttle control.

Whew. Quite a record the ol' Coverup King has established. But not to worry...

Judge Ann gonna make sure corporate-citizen Toyota - at last count sporting a $60 billion pile of cash - isn't treated unfairly by some upstart immigrant who had the audacity to file suit against the Coverup King. First off, that pesky issue of punitive damages - a consideration that's put Toyota in "settlement mode" ever since the Bookout case (see video at bottom) in Oklahoma - had to be dealt with. No problem. Simply rule that Lee isn't entitled to claim such damages. That oughta teach him to confront the likes of Toyota. No tellin' what a jury might do with a case involving a young plaintiff unjustly imprisoned for many years.

And then there's all this fuss about what the jury might be allowed to consider. Ahem. Yes, let's make sure the jury doesn't start thinking about Toyota's never-ending parade of recalls, the congressional inquiry, the fines for delays in reporting safety defects, and for double-dog certain let's not even mention the part about Toyota being an admitted crook. All the jury needs to know for sure, according to Judge Ann, is the fact that Camrys like the one Lee was driving were never part of any of the Coverup King's - er I mean Toyota's - recalls. And that fact provides the absolute perfect opportunity to rule that this pesky immigrant can't argue that Toyota covered anything up. After all, how could any informed person in their right mind entertain the notion that corporate-citizen Toyota might be somewhat less than forthright about acknowledging safety defects? And never mind that a whole slew of people have already testified that they too had been terrorized when their Camrys - just like the one Lee was driving - suddenly sped out of control. Shame on them for having the unmitigated gall to say so under oath, and it must be bothersome indeed that two of Toyota's "Lee-type Camry" victims will testify as part of Lee's lawsuit.

For icing on the cake, let's put some hefty limits on what the jury can hear regarding the horrors Lee experienced during years of unjust imprisonment. Package things up neatly, and blabber that as far as prison time goes, Lee should be compensated not by Toyota, but by taxpayers.

Right, Judge Ann. Let's bend over backwards to make sure this immigrant's lawsuit is conducted fairly for all concerned, especially a taxpaying public that continues to be put at risk by the shenanigans of a crook like Toyota, propped up by the automaker's good friends in Washington - Repukes n Demagogues alike - who deceitfully pose as representatives of the people.

In his courageous efforts to make truth prevail, Koua Fong Lee still needs all the luck he can get.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Did your MR2 Spyder engine disintegrate? Contact Jenn Strathman at WPTV

With honest coverage of the issue by mainstream media, there may be hope yet for folks who were victimized by Toyota regarding the manufacturing defect in MR2 Spyders. Jenn Strathman and WPTV have demonstrated their honesty, courage, and concern for consumers on a variety of issues, most notably, perhaps, with their recent exposure of Toyota's stonewalling response to melting dashboards.

Coverup King Toyota has now agreed to make amends for the dashboards, and a similar result might be obtained if enough folks contacted Jenn about engines disintegrating in MR2 Spyders. Let's give it a try:

jenn.strathman@wptv.com

Friday, December 19, 2014

Crooked Toyota yields to public exposure on melting dashboards

First, I want to pass along one heartfelt thanks to Jenn Strathman and WPTV for their sincere and persistent efforts at exposing the facts about Coverup King Toyota's problems with melting dashboards. Wow, what an amazing performance in a day and age - as I've addressed many times in this blog - when mainstream media almost always cowers down to crooks like Toyota, and, in essence, joins forces with deceitful corporations as they toss out every dirty trick in the book to bully consumers. Moreover, Jenn's tireless efforts - her first report aired back in April - have underscored the reason crooked corporations - backed by this paid-off government - are so intent on controlling news media.

As consumers have done on a vast variety of other issues - epitomized, incidentally, by all those engine failures in MR2 Spyders - folks yelled and screamed about an obvious manufacturing defect that caused Toyota's dashboards to melt into a gooey, sticky mess, the reflection from which presented an equally obvious safety hazard. And just as Coverup King Toyota and its partner-in-crime NHTSA have done on an endless list of similar situations, the response - actually, the lack thereof - was one of stonewalling, denial, and deceit as the gang attempted to fleece consumers and shut the melting dashboard issue up.

But this time it was different.

An honest mainstream news-media operation with a sincere and competent investigative reporter entered the picture, dared to contact Toyota directly, and broadcast the facts. And lo and behold, the free press, much to Toyota's chagrin, finally got the kind of results consumers are entitled to. It's a profound delight to see a slob like Toyota taken to task by a handful of their irate customers and a bit of good, old-fashioned investigative reporting. The kind of reporting that brings down corruption and frees consumers from having to depend on time-consuming, emotionally-draining, and incredibly expensive lawsuits in an effort to obtain a shred of fundamental fairness. Isn't it amazing how a bit of honest, mainstream-media intervention levels up the playing field? Once again - I can't say it forcefully enough - thanks, Jenn. As I blogged in response to that Oklahoma jury's guilty verdict in Toyota's landmark electronically-induced unintended acceleration case: thank you, thank you, thank you. Visit Jenn's Facebook page. Read the many comments from those who had been victimized for years by Toyota's melting-dashboard scam. Bless you, Jenn. Bless WPTV.  

Coverup King and admitted-crook Toyota has now agreed to do what the corporate slob should have done in the first place, without any stonewalling blabber about the dashboard warranties running out. YES. Toyota will now recall millions of vehicles to correct the problem, and reimburse customers who paid to have dashboards replaced.

Nonetheless, look at the lying, deceitful "spin" bully-boy Toyota is putting on the matter. Admitted-crook Toyota has the unmitigated gall to say "We are committed to closely listening to out customers to ensure owner satisfaction." Right. Except in the case of all those engine defects in MR2 Spyders. Except in the case of ongoing unintended acceleration disasters. Except in the case of continuing complaints of oil-sludged engines. Except in the case of... Really, folks. Does Toyota and its government cohorts take people for fools? Is the government-propped-up gang so repulsively self-assured that their unconscionable - and often murderous - abuse of consumers will go on forever? Are they really?

It's time we had a little bit of honesty and bravery in this country. The kind of sincerity and courage exemplified by Jenn Strathman and WPTV. One final time, at least for this post:

THANK YOU, JENN.

Update, 12/19/2014 - Check out photos of the melting dashboards

Update 12/20/2014 - Toyota says replacement parts won't be available until May of 2015, and it looks like the defective dashboards may also involve potential interference with airbags. So ya gotta wonder if Toyota's parts supplier Takata - now implicated in deaths and injuries associated with shrapnel-slingin', exploding airbags - is involved in the lengthy delay. Just add this to tons of evidence confirming that NHTSA - the so-called safety agency has refused to address the melting dashboards - is a corporate-controlled stooge for the auto industry.