Thursday, September 4, 2014

Logging safety and the civil justice system

Logging in.
See some wise remarks below. These were posted on the Jere Beasley Report, the website of Beasley Allen, another entity under attack by Toyota in its subpoena of me.
I agree that the civil justice system is valuable. But it remains flawed.
That is, as the Beasley Report describes, making a new warning label cures a manufacturer's failure to warn. That is cheap and doable. But what happens to the civil justice system when, such as in the case of defective ETCS software, the fix is very very expensive, and the cover-up followed by an uncovering of a defect is so expensive as to risk the company's very existence? (That the what the then-Toyota-VP-and-Congressional-witness Shinichi Sasaki admitted.) This is where the civil justice system is not doing all it can to hold greedy and dishonest corporations fully accountable for warning consumers and for fixing safety defects. The escape hatch is secret settlements.
Toyota can now go ahead and make design changes to improve its ETCS. It is rumored to be doing so already. The problem is that such forward changes do not warn current Toyota owners with dangerously defective cars, nor do they fix the current safety problem. The retrofit of a BOS as Steve negotiated really does not eliminate the safety risk for today's cars, because it makes the driver into a part of the failsafe system. That is inherently inappropriate in a safety-critical systems. Steve, you must have known that. Why did you let Toyota get away with the BOS? In the interest of a reaonable compromise?
And furthermore, the BOS included in later Camry models, and presumably also the one used as the class action mandated retrofit, is part of Task X, and Barr has this to say about it:

So, Steve, and so, Vince and Joel and all of you on the defense side, how do you explain your logic and your honest caring about consumer safety when you make a settlement deal that touts the BOS as one of the "fixes" to help keep consumers safe. Sorry to be so blunt but all of you lawyers are pretty much just about as misleading as Toyota's own PR guys and executives, not to mention NHTSA!
Where's the real truth about the BOS?


OK, well, enough about the dirty secrets of the BOS for now...back to the topic
Our firm tried a most significant  in Montgomery County last year dealing with a defective cab guard on a log truck. The company that manufactured the cab guard admitted during the trial that it knew the cab guard it was selling was unsafe. However, the company had failed to warn purchasers and users of the hazardous condition created by the unsafe cab guards. In fact, it was marketed by the manufacturer as being protective. We proved at trial that the manufacturer’s management knew that the cab guard was unreasonably dangerous and that it should not have been used on the log truck involved in the case.
I wrote last month about the importance of the civil justice system and how lawsuits have brought about needed design changes. The cab guards case is a prime example of how the system works to make products safer. We recently received the new warning label that is now being used by this company.
This change in the warning label by the manufacturer is proof that  serves a useful purpose in the design of products and in bringing about needed product changes. I am convinced that had we not tried this case the new warning would never have been put on the company’s cab guards. Lives will be saved and that’s a result worth all the effort that went into this case. The civil justice system has been under constant attack by tort-reform groups whose mission is to protect wrongdoers at the expense of the public interest. Hopefully the American people realize that their constitutionally protected right to a trial by jury in civil lawsuits is worth fighting for. The cab guard case is a prime example of how important that right is and why the system must be saved.
Kudos to Beasley Allen's attorneys and staff.