Monday, June 30, 2014

NDAs seen as increasingly lethal weapons of corporate secrecy

Washington Post on illegal NDAs
"Nondisclosure agreements traditionally have been used to prevent employees from going to competitors and taking trade secrets with them. But lawyers for whistleblowers say they are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of potentially illegal agreements employees are being asked to sign since the Dodd-Frank law went into effect.
Corporate America is becoming far more sophisticated and aggressive in its efforts to discourage people from coming forward and reporting externally,” said Jordan A. Thomas, who helped to establish the SEC’s whistleblower office as an assistant director there and now works for a New York law firm, Labaton Sucharow. One of his clients is the hedge-fund whistleblower.
Thomas said he has other clients who work for Wall Street firms that are under investigation by the SEC and were asked to sign overly restrictive nondisclosure agreements that prohibit or discourage them from cooperating with federal investigators."

Music break

"Check out....but never leave."

Hotel California - The Eagles

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Draft for book jacket - sneak preview

I started translating Japanese for Toyota in 2010. Cars were zooming out of control, and the company was under investigation. I discovered that insiders knew the root cause could be electronics, and that Toyota did not want the world to learn that fact. Fatal crashes were leading to lawsuits. But PR people and Mr. Toyoda said “Our cars are safe.” I was transfixed with horror at the blood on the road and the invisible menace under the hoods of millions of cars. Then I cast aside my fear of reprisals and leaked the translated documents, seeking justice for victims and protection for the public.

I built a network of engineers, lawyers, auto safety watchdogs, reporters, victims, and congressional staffers. Truth emerged in stages as Toyota retreated from bravado to silence and secret settlements. The cover-up drew a $1.2 billion fine from the DOJ even without the electronics. The conflict still rages behind the scenes. Defiantly, I filled a blog with dozens of revealing internal documents. Toyota is seeking to silence me now. What will happen next?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

rainmaking partner.

She says:
"I am a mother myself, and I had a hard time with the facts of that case."

I could say in response, "I am a mother myself, and I am having a hard time with the facts of these hundreds and thousands of cases, whether filed or not."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Taxi driver unintended acceleration caught on camera - Korea

Link to LiveLeak dashcam video of real UA event

This event is said to have taken place in Korea, where dashcams are common.
Scary to watch. Pitiful sounds from car occupants after crash.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mr. Crash

                                                             Net worth $1 billion. Nice.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Hot Jurisdictions" in Auto product liability, while Kevin Vincent speaks with forked tongue

This automaker defense conference just finished. See below for the conference program

Sean Kane was good enough to report on some of the remarks by NHTSA Chief Counsel Kevin Vincent, the very man who balked when I offered him some hot evidence that Toyota knew all about electronics defects that can cause SUA...because as Kevin's henchman attorney Matthew Weissman said, NHTSA cannot examine docs that automakers claim are attorney work product and attorney-client privileged.

First, Chief Counsel O. Kevin Vincent lulled them with a feel-good “rah-rah-ree” paean to industry. And then, he made the hair on the back of their necks rise: A manufacturer’s obligation to report a defect within five days of its discovery is the law, and after a long hiatus from doing its job, NHTSA intended to take “an aggressive stance” in enforcing it.
The first offense line in the discovery of a defect was not the Office of Defects Investigation, Vincent said. It was the manufacturers themselves.
“We don’t have analysts, but your clients do. You all have ability to find these defects,” he said.
A manufacturer cannot delay a defect finding, while a safety problem meanders through an internal process involving multiple committees. It cannot hide its knowledge behind a wall of attorney work product and attorney-client privilege. It cannot wait until it’s gotten the supply chain ready to implement the recall.

And it better not wait until after it settles a plaintiff’s case for big bucks. The TREAD Act obligated NHTSA to “follow up on civil litigation that sends up red flags,” he said. 

Very good Kevin. Walk the talk, OK? So far you aren't. Let me contact you today to see if you do as you say you will do. [contacted, today June 9, 2014. Left VM message with my phone number and details.]

And don't let the DOJ get away with the same nonsense you've presided over while you wait until some Big Law firm offers you an important job.

Meanwhile, the Omni Hotel's hallways, bars, and restaurant tables must have been a hotbed of in-house and outside counsel making cozy connections. How much money can they make in the process of defending automakers against consumer claims of auto defects? At least $500/hour, plus accolades and prizes for best defense lawyer, like Lisa Gilford. Fame and fortune await those lawyers willing to go to bat for automakers in court.

It must have been quite a scene of happy, well-paid lawyers whose financial interests align nicely with the existence of dangerous cars.

Automotive Product Liability Litigation

Expert Strategies for Singles-Out Vehicles and Media-Focused Issues

Wednesday, June 04 to Thursday, June 05, 2014
The Omni Chicago Hotel on the Magnificent Mile, Chicago, IL

Now in its 7th year, ACI’s lauded Automotive Product Liability Litigation conference is the highest-level national event on the market. It’s the only one that combines federal and state judicial insights and networking and business development opportunities with dozens of inhouse counsel from manufacturers and suppliers, all while allowing you to keep pace with the hot jurisdictions, case law, new and emerging parties, and advancements in technology. This year’s agenda has been revamped to provide you with strategic advice, critical insights, and comprehensive updates for:
  • Defending against typical defect theories: rollovers, side curtain air bags, fires, tire aging, electronic stability control, unintended acceleration, keyless ignition, and seat backs
  • Vehicle driver assist and sensor technologies, active safety systems, and autonomous cars: overcoming the product liability defense challenges and anticipating the future of claims
  • Incorporating the latest regulatory initiatives on safety and design of automotive products into your litigation strategy
  • Current battleground for automotive class action litigation including class certification, managing experts, pleadings, choice of law, and arbitration
  • Combating the recent rise in the filing of claims and class actions involving no-injury, consumer fraud, and warranties (express and implied)
  • How recalls are impacting class actions, litigation strategy to defeat class claims, recall-based Rule 23 arguments, and mootness
  • The latest nuances on the preemption defense and international personal jurisdiction and their impact on auto products liability cases
  • Effectively cross-examining experts and developing newer qualified newer experts
  • Ensuring confidentiality in the litigation of automotive claims, protecting work product in a discovery dispute, and using arbitration to your advantage

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Robert Reich: The Way to Stop Corporate Lawbreaking is to Prosecute the People Who Break the Law

Robert Reich: The Way to Stop Corporate Lawbreaking is to Prosecute the People Who Break the Law

Today General Motors announced that it has fired 15 employees and disciplined five others in the wake of an internal investigation into the company’s handling of defective ignition switches, which lead to at least 13 fatalities.
But who’s legally responsible when a big corporation breaks the law? The government thinks it’s the corporation itself.
"What GM did was break the law … They failed to meet their public safety obligations,” scolded Sec of Transportation Anthony Foxx a few weeks ago after imposing the largest possible penalty on the giant automaker.
Attorney General Eric Holder was even more adamant recently when he announced the guilty plea of giant bank Credit Suisse to criminal charges for aiding rich Americans avoid paying taxes. “This case shows that no financial institution, no matter its size or global reach, is above the law.” 
Tough words. But they rest on a bizarre premise. GM didn’t break the law, and Credit Suisse never acted above it. Corporations don’t do things. People do.  [emphasis added]

Thursday, June 5, 2014

National Law Journal, August 2013: Toyota Attacks Alleged Evidence of Accelerator Software Bug

Toyota Attacks Alleged Evidence of Accelerator Software Bug

Amanda Bronstad
The National Law Journal
Toyota Motor Corp. has moved to strike evidence from a software expert who claims to have identified a bug in the electronic throttle control system source code that plaintiffs attorneys blame for unintended acceleration by Toyota vehicles.
Michael Barr, who specializes in embedded software programming, was deposed on July 3 in as a plaintiffs expert in the first bellwether trial of hundreds of cases pending in federal court .,,,,
Toyota moved on August 9 to strike Barr’s report, arguing that plaintiffs attorneys were merely attempting to improperly assert a new defect theory. Plaintiffs attorney Todd Walburg, in an August 14 response, insisted that Barr was merely supplementing his own testimony and that of another expert.

“Plaintiff’s source code experts have located the software bug in Toyota’s electronic throttle control system source code that explains why Mrs. Ida St. John’s 2005 Toyota Camry accelerated out-of-control from a stop sign,” Walburg wrote. “This software bug likely also explains the numerous other reported Unintended Acceleration incidents that have initiated at low speeds and when drivers are parking or stopped at an intersection.”