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Toyota Faces Scrutiny in Canada

Mar 17, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

Toyota is facing another investigation over its recent recalls for unintended acceleration, this time in Canada.

As we’ve reported previously, Toyota is facing multiple investigations in the U.S. over its handling of the recalls. In addition to investigations currently being conducted in the U.S. Congress and by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Toyota has also been served with subpoenas by a federal grand jury in New York and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Last week, the Orange County, California District Attorneys office announced it would be filing a lawsuit against Toyota, and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office has also opened an investigation that could lead to a lawsuit.

According to The Globe and Mail, at a hearing in Ottawa yesterday, Members of Parliament (MPs) questioned a three-month delay between the time that Toyota Canada first learned of sticky accelerator problems and when it notified consumers and federal safety officials. Canadian law requires companies to alert federal officials immediately when they discover a safety defect. MPs accused the company of playing down concerns about unintended acceleration to avoid issuing recalls, The Globe and Mail said.

Following yesterday’s hearing in Ottawa, Canadian Transportation Minister John Baird said transport officials are investigating whether Toyota Canada Inc. provided proper notification of safety problems around its sticky accelerator pedal. According to The Globe and Mail, only a month ago Baird’s office had said the government had no plans at that point to probe the timeliness of the recalls.

Since last fall, Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for problems involving sudden acceleration. Toyota has blamed the speed control issues on defective floor mats and faulty accelerator pedals, but some experts suspect that problems with the vehicles’ electronic throttle control system could really be behind the problems. Such suspicions have increased recently, as dozens of Toyota owners whose vehicles underwent recall repairs have recently complained that their vehicles are still experiencing problems with unintended acceleration.

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