WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The chairman of a House panel probing Toyota's safety record, Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., alleges the automaker illegally withheld records from U.S. courts.
After reviewing records obtained under subpoena, Towns, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the Japanese automaker "deliberately withheld records that it was legally required to produce in response to discovery orders in litigation."
"Many" of the cases of withheld records concerned cases involving "rollover" accidents, "Including cases where victims were paralyzed," Towns said in a press release.
Evidence of the withheld records was discovered through an examination of documents provided by the former Toyota Motor Sales USA managing counsel in product liability, Dimitrios Biller, who represented the company between April 2003 and September 2007 in "some of the largest tort cases filed against Toyota," the statement said.
Through some of the tort cases, Toyota feared the plaintiff's counsel would discover what was referred to as the "Book of Knowledge" that included design and testing data, Towns said.
Towns, in a letter to Yoshimi Inaba, president and chief executive officer of Toyota USA, has asked the company to respond to the allegations by March 12.