| Added On April 28, 2010
Toyota, the automaker giant, was back in the news this past week when they agreed not to appeal the $16.4 million fine levied by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The fine, the largest on record against an automaker, was the maximum fine allowed under current federal law. Toyota could have protested the fine and chosen to battle it out with the Department of Justice, but announced earlier this week that did not intent to appeal and instead would be paying the fine within 30 days.
While $16.4 million sounds like an extremely large amount of money, let’s put it in perspective. For a company whose annual revenue is in the billions of dollars, 16 million dollars doesn’t sound quite as remarkable. In reality, fighting the fines may have cost the automaker more than paying the fine in the long run. Aside from the actual costs of the litigation, avoiding any further damage to Toyota’s reputation may have been a motivation to accept the fine as quietly as possible. The once seemingly untouchable automaker has suffered potentially irreparable harm to its reputation over the last year. With the first recall last Fall of over 4 million vehicles after the fatal accident in a Toyota manufactured SUV in San Diego, the questions about when Toyota knew about the defects in its vehicles began to emerge. With the second and third recalls in January and February of this year, the questions took on more importance ultimately spurning an investigation by federal officials in the United States. It was that investigation that led to the fine levied against Toyota last week.
With over 8 million vehicles and counting on the Toyota recall list, Toyota’s reputation has certainly taken a hit. Accepting the fine and agreeing to pay it within a timely manner was one way to keep yet another controversy from erupting. Additionally, Toyota was able to accept the fine without agreeing to any wrongdoing, says California Toyota recall attorney Emery Ledger. The fine was ordered by the Department of Transportation – not a judge. The Department of Transportation has the authority to investigate possible wrongdoing by a manufacturer and clearly they can order a fine if they find that there was wrongdoing. Payment of the fine, however, does not equal an admission of guilt by the manufacturer. In fact, Toyota has specifically said they do not delay in reporting the defects in their vehicles and they have explicitly denied any wrongdoing in the matter. Their explanation for agreeing to pay the fine is essentially to avoid a prolonged battle with the Department of Justice. While this explanation makes sense for a number of reasons, it remains to be seen how the car buying public perceives the agreement to pay the fine.
If you have been personally affected by the Toyota recall or have been the victim of an accident involving one of the recalled vehicles, you may be entitled to compensation for any injuries or damages you received as a result. For more information on the Toyota recalls and your legal options if you have been a victim of one of the recalled vehicles, please contact California Toyota recall attorney Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or contact him through his website at www.ledgerlaw.com.