Thursday, July 31, 2014

NHTSA lawyer Matt Weisman: Docs too hot to handle, so we will just turn them over to Toyota



Some like it hot, some just like to chilli

I had a run-in with NHTSA last year. Thinking that they could use some more help understanding what makes SUA tick, if you will, I suggested that some things I know could help the Quandts and Yons suffering in ignorance in the dark mechanical corners of the Office of Defects Investigation. So I said, hey, you know, Honorable Mr. Strickland, I have got some hot stuff for you. Maybe it can help save lives if your men dig in and do their best to understand it.
So Mr. Strickland, undoubtedly with his eye fixed on his soon-to-be-arranged exit to the oh most remunerative Private Sector, ignored me and instead sent me to his top legal henchman, Chief Counsel OK Vincent, Esq., who then promptly assigned the task of shooing me away to his lower henchman, the attorney Matthew Weisman.
Being a bonafide American attorney, he knows never to put anything important in writing unless he is filing a lawsuit. So he called me up and he said, "Hey Betsy, fine, if you want to, you can give us everything, but we think it is too hot for us so we will immediately turn it over to Toyota for a 'privilege check.' Only if they give us the green light will we have a look ourselves."

I raised my voice at him. I admit it. I went on and on about what a waste it would be to do as he proposed and certainly he could find some outside counsel to do a privilege check.... And dang it anyway, I told him, I know that such a policy will prevent the regulators tasked with keeping Amercian cars safe from improving their knowledge, the lack of which has been widely recognized among members of Congress in recent years, especially about SUA. But he was adamant. No doubt following his marching orders. So I wrote him, in quite a huff, and said "Forget it, Matt," I said, "I won't bother sending you anything if you will do that."

After this, a few people on the Hill, including investigators, expressed some siginficant consternation about Matt's reaction. And one attorney there, who knows legal truths, tried to tell Matt that he had no legal leg to stand on. But OK Vincent was saying OK to his boss and not to Congress, and not to American drivers. So I did not get an OK to do anything to help Mr. Yon and Mr. Quandt.

Later I got a twisty kind of email from Matt that bears no true relationship with the actual conversation.. Every other email I sent to argue with him went unanswered.



This story goes on, and in a kind of exciting way, but I will save it for the book. This year, OK Vincent gave a speech to a large audience of automaker defense counsel, perhaps Tom and Lisa were even in the room, in which he said that from now on, NHTSA is going to make sure that automakers cannot hide their defects behind walls of privilege. Really? Maybe standing around the bar later in the day with all the assembled defense counsel having a beer, something else was said. I wonder what will happen next. Certainly Matt has not called me back to say he changed his mind.




Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Barr and the DOJ- what we know and what we know that we don't know

Sandbarr

All of this has been published elsewhere. I am just bringing it together again here for your persusal specifically because Toyota does not want you to see it. The following quoted text was first published in comments sections connected with two incisive EE Times articles:

"Toyota Pays $1.2 Billion to Settle DOJ Probe"

and

"DOJ on Toyota Software Problem: No Comment"

Re: Another successful score... junko.yoshida  
3/27/2014 10:39:16 AM
DoJ made its judgement against Toyota based on Toyota's initial cover-up -- "it's the floor mat, it's the sticky pedal!"

So, as you say, at a time when the most public isn't even aware of the software issue (as proven in the Oklahoma case), DoJ knowingly or unknowingly legitimized Toyota's initial execuse, and helped Toyota cover up even a bigger software glitch issue. Well, at least, that's what it seems to me. Am I wrong about this???

Me:

Junko,


You are not wrong. You are right.

The docs I got in the translation project for Debevoise & Plimpton, Toyota's defense law firm representing them to the DOJ, were mainly about sticky pedals, floor mats, and floor pans, and the PR efforts made to appease the public. And among them were some really hotly incriminating docs about how Toyota deliberately misled NHTSA. We know this now in public becasue the DOJ's "Statement of Facts" parallels almost exactly the content of most of the docs they were given to me indirectly by D&P lawyers on behalf of Toyota. 

However, in very late 2011 and early 2012, after nearly a year of translating material almost entirely devoid of electronics related content, except for a few hideous smoking gun sentences that slipped through here and there, I received a batch of 230 documents that were translated separately and apparently held aside. These were far more involved with electronics. 

I wonder what happened to them. Did D&P hold onto them? Did they turn them over to the DOJ and the DOJ discounted them? Certainly they were not compelling proof of electronics defects all by themselves, but the DOJ can subpoena anyone it wants.

Around 6 weeks go, after the first WSJ leak article of the pending settlement, I contacted the DOJ and offered them the docs, thinking, well, they probably have them already. But if some were withheld, maybe they would like to know that. they checked with their colleagues and a week or so later they asked me for details on how to access them, and I provided those, and my impression was that they had been given an OK to review those documents. They included the electronics related docs and some also from the MDL that I had translated, and those were some evidence of electronics-related monkey business / cover-up. At that time, during the phone call where they asked the details of where they could access the docs...this was around perhaps five weeks ago, I pressed them to investigate Michael Barr's findings because these were extremely relevant to the Toyota cover-up of the electronics. There was one investigator on the phone along with the senior prosecutor. When I spoke of Barr, the investigator asked (and this was his only question to me during the whole phone call), "How do you spell Barr's name?" In shock, I spelled Barr's name for him.  Later, I confirmed from other sources

<insert here>



Like a bolt out of the blue



 that up to that point the DOJ had apparently not gone in that direction at all.

What is going on in the United States of America that Toyota is able to employ even the DOJ in the service of its cover-up? My disappointment is profound.

Betsy.

I said some more:

@Aerospace, If I understand Barr's work correctly, he found a single-point failure mode, not multi-point failures as you claim.


Barr's conclusion that Toyota's software is defective is actually less important, in my view, than his conclusion that their engineering processes are defective. This validates the strong impression I and others have had in reviewing  the 230 electronics-related internal Toyota engineering documents. The docs reveal a kind of seat-of-the-pants engineering, where engineering processes allowed designs in which Toyota engineers had to do detective work to find out why vehicles behaved unexpectedly, both during development (which may be acceptable for design processes of non-safety critical systems, but not for safety critical), and when receiving reports of vehicle behavior on the road, in the real world. I think you engineers can agree that a safety-critical machine must be absolutely predictable in its behavior, and the Toyota engineers recognized that the vehicles they were making were unpredictable. At times they used the word "ghost" to describe performance changes that they observed. Is this normal? Is it safe?

Barr's view of the substandard engineering practices that produced substandard designs has been supported in various ways by his colleague Dr. Koopman, as well as by engineers Gilbert, Leidecker, Barrance, Anderson, Rajkumar, Belt, Kirk, Hubing, Pecht, Armstrong, among others, both in the laboratory and in theory, the theory being primarily a comparison between proper safety-critical engineering practices and the practices that become evident in vehicle examinations and document review. The views of all of these respected engineers, taken together, substantiate Barr's conclusion about the engineering.

There is data that these failures occurred in the real world. The data exists but has not yet been published.

It is also plainly obvious that the hundreds of serious lawsuits against Toyota show that actual vehicle performance reveals engineering flaws. These vehicles are unpredictable on the road. That is a defect. As attorney Cole Portis pointed out in his interview on Israel's Channel 2, none of these lawsuits would have even been filed by law firms for plaintiffs if the facts could easily lead to blaming the driver for the death or catastrophic injury.

I will be very interested to learn why the DOJ ignored the electronics.




Re: DOJ Dodge junko.yoshida   3/29/2014 10:48:07 PM
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@AeropsaceEngr, respectfully, I disagree. If What Mr. Barr did was merely "postulating a combination of multiple failures," Toyota hasn't actually proven that the sticky pedals or floor mat actually occrred in the real world, either.

But I digress.

You may want to read what B. Benjaminson wrote here in a separate thread:

http://www.eetimes.com/messages.asp?piddl_msgthreadid=44469&piddl_msgid=295299#msg_295299

The reason why DoJ didn't use the Oklahoma case in their judgement against Toyota now appears that they weren't simply aware of the case in Oklahoma, not because they were suspicious of Mr. Barr.

That, in my mind, is almost criminal.











Tuesday, July 29, 2014

in re Rumors: Plaintiffs counsel Don Slavik asks The Right Question

A heart of gold
Don Slavik is the kind of lawyer who seems to have a true heart of gold for his clients, the wrongful death/personal injury victims of Toyota SUA. He had the strong heart to ask Toyota The Question--their reasons for the redactions on Barr's Slide 51 based on the Toyota Contention that these are subject to the source code protective order.

To wit,
"I ask that you describe with specificity what information you contend is subject to Dkt. 1980 [the Source Code Protective Order] and why you believe this to be true in light of Mr. Barr's sworn testimony (see his attached Declaration)."

NOW, where is Toyota's answer? Secret, I suppose.

See Slavik's letter to Nolan and Gilford below.

Meanwhile, in the Kitchen Sink department of odd behavior by Toyota counsel, I noticed that their most sought-after file, the native PPT of Barr's presentation, is the main focal point of the subpoena and its appended document requests, yet Skadden already has this file because just like anyone else, they could and they did download it from my very public Dropbox folder, and they can and almost surely already did perform a forensic analysis on that file, so they already know all about it. Yet they seem to need to make me travel some 7600 miles to give it to them and to be interrogated about it? Hmmm. How odd.

OK, back to Mr. Slavik's brilliant and important question:

Asking the Right Question

Duty to disclose celebrated on July 30 - National Whistleblower Appreciation Day


Alarms pose a threat
Point at issue is that unlike in 1778, any alarms that I or others may raise in the public interest in 2014 also pose a threat to government authorities who seem to support Toyota's apparent tall tales about SUA and the company's apparent ongoing attempts to conceal the truth. 

Oy, if only Judge Selna would "release government records" that reveal more truth than we now know, and if only Uncle Sam would pay David!

SENATE RESOLUTION 202--DESIGNATING JULY 30, 2013, AS ``NATIONAL
WHISTLEBLOWER APPRECIATION DAY''
Mr. GRASSLEY (for himself and Mr. LEVIN) submitted the following resolution;
which was considered and agreed to.:
S. Res. 202
Whereas, in 1777, before the passage of the Bill of Rights, 10 sailors and marines blew
the whistle on fraud and misconduct harmful to the United States;
Whereas the Founding Fathers unanimously supported the whistleblowers in words and 
deeds, including releasing government records and providing monetary assistance for 
reasonable legal expenses necessary to prevent retaliation;
Whereas, on July 30, 1778, in demonstration of their full support for whistleblowers,
the members of the Continental Congress unanimously enacted the first whistleblower
legislation in the United States that read: ``Resolved, That it is the duty of all persons in 
the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the 
earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or 
misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states, which 
may come to their knowledge'' (legislation of July 30, 1778, reprinted in Journals of the
Continental Congress, 1774-1789, ed. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC,
1908), 11:732);
Whereas whistleblowers risk their careers, jobs, and reputations by reporting waste,
fraud, and abuse to the proper authorities;
Whereas, when providing proper authorities with lawful disclosures, whistleblowers
save taxpayers in the United States billions of dollars each year and serve the public
interest by ensuring that the United States remains an ethical and safe place; and
Whereas it is the public policy of the United States to encourage, in accordance with
Federal law (including the Constitution, rules, and regulations) and consistent with the
protection of classified information (including sources and methods of detection), honest 
and good faith reporting of misconduct, fraud, misdemeanors, and other crimes to the 
appropriate authority at the earliest time possible: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) designates July 30, 2013, as ``National Whistleblower Appreciation Day''; and
(2) ensures that the Federal Government implements the intent of the Founding
Fathers, as reflected in the legislation enacted on July 30, 1778, by encouraging each
executive agency to recognize National Whistleblower Appreciation Day by--(A) informing employees, contractors working on behalf of United States taxpayers,
and members of the public about the legal rights of citizens of the United States to blow
the whistle; and
(B) acknowledging the contributions of whistleblowers to combating waste, fraud, 
abuse, and violations of laws and regulations in the United States.

Tom Nolan, this one is for you




But Tom, maybe you SHOULD NOT WATCH THIS!
If you do, in three minutes you will be losing an estimated $48 of billing time for Skadden. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

David Hechler wins the Stephen Barr award for his story, "Lost in Translation," that raised important questions about Toyota SUA


David Hechler

There are more than enough heroes to go around in this truth-out story of Toyota SUA. David Hechler is a shining star of journalistic integrity and enthusiasm, and I count him among the greatest in our merry band of strong-willed truth-tellers as we turn the tide on Toyota.

The first award won by David for his lengthy, balanced "Lost in Translation" story was a Neal Award that was given in March of this year. The second prize, announced today, is actually two prizes in one. First, the story took the gold in the Impact/Investigative category. Then all the features that won top awards in each category were considered for the grand prize, the Stephen Barr award, and David won.

These awards are signifcant. His work is judged the best by highly respected business journalists. We can rely on him.

Here's the official announcement:

*****************************************************************************************
David Hechler, executive editor of Corporate Counsel magazine, is the 2014 winner of ASBPE’s Stephen Barr Award for his article “Lost in Translation.” His April 2013 story was a retrospective of Toyota’s “sudden acceleration problem,” offering readers a behind-the scenes understanding of crisis management. The story also helped explain why so many legal problems remained for Toyota after a string of horrific accidents, and a recall crisis that many thought had blown over.
Hechler has been at Corporate Counsel since 2005, starting as a senior reporter and editor. For the four previous years he was a senior reporter and then associate editor at the National Law Journal, another publication of New York-based ALM Global.
******************************************************************************************
Congratulations to David! Keep up the good work.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Subpoena response due today; will she fight or will she be nice?



Putting the final touches on the subpoena response today.

I think that I am being nice. But we will see what Toyota thinks.

[Update: The response (actually, objections) was sent in to Messrs. Skadden a short time ago. It is 350 pages long. There is a lot worth objecting to, on every level.]

[Update 2: I remember with fond amusement that one of the world-class functional safety engineers listed on the subpoena document requests--Toyota's self-proclaimed "nefarious villains"--  nicknamed me the "Desert Warrior Queen" back when I lived in Israel's Negev desert, had received my first shock at the content of the Toyota internal documents, and had made a decision to act.
I appreciate the sentiment. Somehow I doubt that Toyota will be likewise impressed. ;-) ]


"OMG! - they know!" department -- Christopher Reynolds thunders at CNN to stop

Stop, or else

Some choice quotes from a letter that Toyota Chief Legal Officer Chris Reynolds wrote to a CNN producer around February, 2012, long after the DOJ criminal investigation was launched.

"Why it is that CNN intends to proceed with its plans to air a story about this document featuring so called “experts” and consumer “advocates” paid by plaintiffs’ lawyers now suing Toyota for money. We frankly do not understand why it is that CNN appears to be willing to rely upon and publicize the biased commentary of those with a financial interest in litigation against Toyota with no scrutiny whatsoever of their motives or the support for their claims."

"This is particularly irresponsible" 

"We view this story as an attempt by plaintiffs’ lawyers suing Toyota
for money to manufacture doubt about the safety of Toyota’s vehicles in the absence of
any scientific evidence whatsoever. The studies conducted by the NHTSA and NASA
got it right – there is no evidence that Toyota’s electronics can cause uncommanded
acceleration. It is ironic and disheartening that the very document at issue, which is
actually evidence of Toyota’s robust vehicle design and pre-production testing, is the
apparent centerpiece for CNN’s broadcast.

"At this point, we are unaware of the other elements of CNN’s planned broadcast. To
the extent that the broadcast will consist of other inaccurate commentary cobbled
together to leave the viewer with the impression that Toyota’s vehicles are unsafe, we
are profoundly disappointed with this course of action. Toyota has been accountable for
the safety of its products. CNN owes its viewers and the American public the same
level of candor and commitment to journalistic integrity.

"Please note that Toyota reserves the right to take any and every appropriate step to
protect and defend the reputation of our company and its products from irresponsible

and inaccurate claims made in CNN’s upcoming broadcast."


[I have omitted Chris's "blah blah blah soooo technical you can't understand it anyway" substantive arguments here; suffice that they have been largely dismembered by experts and are actually egregiously misleading.] Perhaps I will post the give and take on that another day.

What we have left are his bluster and his threats. Where does spin end and fraud begin? When Chris wrote these words, he was undoubtedly aware that a grand jury had found probable cause for a charge of fraud.




Uncompensated SUA victim comments "it is a worse situation than GM is charged with..."

A "cabal" of experts


An email from my inbox.

"If R is still in Israel, please tell him 'G says hi!'

You commented 'I am now scrambling to find ways of alerting the prosecutors to Toyota's apparent ongoing breaches of its agreement with them' and I’m wondering if my case is one of those. Just after the $1.2 billion settlement, C sent me four public documents (which I previously forwarded to you), only one of which I had previously seen, about my case and \ similar unresolved / unaddressed safety issues Toyota is ignoring. That Toyota STILL hasn’t come clean with NHTSA, or me, or anyone else regarding the steering shaft “connectors,” the unintended acceleration issue I experienced (probably associated with the cruise control), and that the SRS (among all other steering column / steering wheel mounted controls) was rendered inoperative and wouldn’t have deployed had I been in a resultant accident, I think might qualify. To me, at least, it’s a worse situation than GM is charged with and yet Toyota is getting off scott-free. I think this fits with your comment and proves, already, that Toyota is violating the terms of their settlement with the DOJ."

Keep going Betsy! You’re incredible! As always, thank you for all your assistance with my Toyota problems!

*****************************************************************************************

Oh Richard...so, nu?

Friday, July 25, 2014

They will do anything to sell a truck, but it comes with a legal gorilla




Cute. But now, about that 600-lb legal gorilla--





When you buy a truck, this is what comes along in the back.



So what does "Wakudoki" mean?
It is a compound word that combines the meanings of a palpitating heart of anxiety and tension (dokidoki) with joy and hope, excitement and anticipation.

ワクドキとは期待や喜びで心がはずみ、落ち着かないさまを表す「ドキドキ」と不安や緊張で動悸のするさまを表す「ドキドキ」の合成語で、期待と不安・興奮と緊張が入り混じり、落ち着かないさまを表す。

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Myth-busting department: driver error is a myth



Spike

Lest we forget, customer complaints about Toyota SUA spiked after the introduction of the electronic throttle control system. After that, Toyota began claiming in its public statements and its lawsuit defenses that drivers were confusing the gas pedal and the brake. This one bar graph from the NHTSA - NASA study of Toyota electronics should lay that myth to rest in the minds of reasonable people.


Dr. Antony Anderson has studied this and writes


Randy Whitfield is the statistician who first found the statistical spike. He is on Skadden's list of "villains" on the subpoena document request. Here's an example of a 2013 VOQ complaint that Randy makes easily available on his Quality Control Systems website as a public service.

I WAS TURNING AROUND IN A PARKING LOT (360 DEGREE TURN) WHEN THE VEHICLE SUDDENLY ACCELERATED...I HIT THE BRAKE, THE ENGINE CONTINUED TO RACE AND I TRIED TO PUT THE ENGINE IN NEUTRAL. I WAS HEADING TOWARD A PARKED VEHICLE (I WOULD HAVE T-BONED IT BUT I SWERVED), FOOT DEPRESSING THE BRAKE TO THE FLOOR, NOTHING ON THE ACCELERATOR, ENGINE CONTINUED TO RACE AND WHILE I TRIED TO PUT THE VEHICLE IN NEUTRAL I OVERSHOT, THREW IT INTO REVERSE (ENGINE STILL RACING), THEN PARK. ENGINE RACING, I SHUT OFF THE CAR. NOTHING WAS ON THE ACCELERATOR AND THE ORIGINAL FLOOR MAT REPLACED BY A DIFFERENT STYLE. I HAD THE ORIGINAL RECALL ISSUE FIXED SO THE ACCELERATOR IS THE NEW, SHORTENED VERSION. APPARENTLY THAT FIX DID NOT CORRECT THE PROBLEM. SO NOW WHAT DO I DO? I CAN NO LONGER TRUST THIS VEHICLE TO OPERATE SAFELY. NOTHING SHOULD OVERRIDE THE BRAKE!! *TR


Another rumor: Maybe Toyota engineers thought "no one would ever find the problem"


A belt

A well-considered comment by an anonymous physicist; still, must be classified as an unconfirmed rumor:

"We know that something in the ETCS-I design is causing SUA.  So we must be willing to admit that Toyota engineers may not have considered something that they should have.   Or maybe they did consider something, but felt that they had no alternative but to do it the way they did, and that no one would ever find the problem."


.....it is true that the causes of SUA are hard to find. In that, we all agree. But we part ways when the causes are indeed found. Some face them, and others deny them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How easy is it to hoodwink a judge on technical matters?


A hood-wink


From the website of Dr. Ehud Roffeh, a straight-talking Israeli cyber-crime expert

"Everything can be brought before a judge--
legal challenges in a technological era

They decide the fate of individuals and organisations on a daily basis. Every year they reach thousands of decisions and are faced with many varied, complex and challenging situations. They are carefully chosen after many years of accumulated knowledge and experience and nobody questions their abilities. However, there is one challenge, inevitable in this day and age, where they often find themselves helpless. Amongst themselves, and often also in public, they admit that never ending technological innovations leave them without the knowledge and the tools required to make clear and considered judgments.

Some years ago Judge Mica Agmon-Gonen stated in a legal tribunal that: "…the courts' shouldn't have to deal with this…" One judge admitted, during a hearing, that he did not know how to deal with technological issues, and yet another judge asked that she be presented with an expert opinion from a computer expert whose decision with regard to the issue before the court would be binding and final.

Statements such as these are evidence of the sad state of affairs that the legal system finds itself in. Whether this is due to a lack of experience or the slow speed that the wheels of justice turn at (especially when compared to the frequency of technological innovations that are a hallmark of this century), Judges, and let's be honest about this, lack the knowledge and the expertise to judge these complex issues. Even the leaders of the legal system understand that more and more cases dealing with or hinging on technological matters are appearing before the courts and that, in its turn, demands that the legal system rethinks itself."

As an ordinary citizen and blogger, I ask -- How do we really know if Judge Selna is fully appraised and trained or sufficiently advised in engineering matters to understand and pass judgment on the validity of the reasons for the technical secrecy?

Rumors are flying: Real reasons for redactions of Barr's powerpoint




Rumor mill

There are credible but unconfirmed rumors floating around (from more than one source) that the alleged true reason Toyota so fiercely desires that the unredacted version of Barr's powerpoint be kept from public view is that the names of the subroutines listed on Page 51, if made public, expose Toyota to the risk of patent infringement lawsuits from their various suppliers, perhaps from Bosch. Or, maybe, it is simply a matter of covering their hindquarters that remain terribly exposed to allegations of defects. Then there is also the matter of failsafe patents that were applied for and either not granted for some reason or were commented upon by patent examiners who noted their deficiencies, or perhaps were granted but not implemented by the engineers. Oh, yes, and then there is the rumor that Toyota asked Bosch to omit any SUA related diagnostic trouble codes because Toyota, supposedly, allegedly, knew that it would need to defend against SUA related lawsuits. Rumors....rumors, all.

Does this make sense?

Judge Selna, we'll catch up with you later about this, but meanwhile I just wonder if you have really investigated Toyota's true reasons for the fierce secrecy in light of the fact that their purported crown jewels have been proved in open court in Oklahoma to be mere dross.

Our true treasure, the honest and outspoken electrical engineer Dr. Antony Anderson, has this to say about the likely true reason:



Maybe Tom or Lisa can ask me some questions about this when they interrogate me. I would like that very much.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Architecture is crap" - aircraft safety engineer Geoff Barrance summarizes Koopman




Crowbarr

Geoff Barrance writes today (giving me permission to quote him):

"Obviously the Toyota lawyers are using the source code PP "issue" as a crowbar to get at you and Barr, but note the testimony of Koopman, which pointed out the system level architectural deficiencies that I had sensed from the information in the NASA reports.  It might be good to find the quote in the Koopman testimony about the system being unprotected from arbitrary faults.  Although Koopman's testimony didn't get the publicity that Barr's did, it is actually showing even more fundamental problems with the design.  My summary would be that 'you can't have a safe system if the architecture is crap (technical term that might be replaced by some other word!) even if the software were perfect.'"

*         *          *

Dear Tom, Lisa, and Kevin, what other juicy tidbits will you find in my emails?? Are you sure you want them? Won't you have to resign if you read them? Toyota's public position that its vehicles are safe does not seem to have changed one bit. But the evidence? Apparently it seems to prove the opposite.

from Geoffrey Barrance
Iowa (Rep. Braley's constituent)

Dear Representative Braley,
Toyota Unintended Acceleration – What Now?
I have to tell you that I am very disappointed in the lack of follow up from you and your staff (and indeed the entire Federal Government) in respect of my inputs to you on the Toyota Unintended Acceleration issue.
The situation has now changed. We have the testimony and results of the Bookout vs. Toyota case in Oklahoma. A guilty verdict and $3 million damage award, rapidly taken out of court, with a secret settlement before consideration of punitive damages. No doubt you are aware of this, but an excellent link to summarize this is:
http://www.safetyresearch.net/2013/11/07/toyota-unintended-acceleration-and-the-big-bowl-of-spaghetti-code/
The embedded link to the presentation by Michael Barr of his analysis of the software in the ECM is well worth following up. You should also refer to Professor Koopman’s testimony, to fill out the broader system context, which is more my field. In Koopman and Barr’s assessments you will find utterly damning evidence that the Engine Control Module (indeed the entire engine control system from accelerator pedal to the throttle plate) is fundamentally flawed in design and execution, and therefore subject to arbitrary failure modes. This is, of course, what I have been telling you.
I refer to my most recent document, which was a (damning) review of the finalized Exponent report, which I handed to one of your staff at your open house in Cedar Rapids earlier this year. In it I specifically pointed out the following ETCS-i system’s deficiencies:
 design of the pedals, which enclose both sensors in a common housing without barriers and physical separation or any apparent indication of application of specific segregation standards[1]
 use of a single chip to enclose two hall effect sensors
1 [Added] Koopman and Barr use the term Fault Containment Regions, which is the engineering principle involved. Segregation standards are specific rules for implementing fault containment regions. Note that Koopman & Barr say the entire ETCS-i system is in only one fault containment region. They had direct access to information; I had to discover what I could from the NASA and Exponent reports.
 use of single connectors to carry both sets of signals, without barrier pins or apparent application of any segregation standards
 use of a common wiring loom relying on wire insulation only to assure independence of the sensor signals (better to have each set of wires in a grounded screen)
 use of a single analog to digital converter for all critical and redundant signal paths, with no statement that analysis has been performed to show no failure modes exist which can compromise the independence of the pedal and/or throttle sensor redundant signals [Emphasis added here.]
 incorporation of complex hardware components (processors) with no apparent consideration of arbitrary failure modes resulting in malicious faults and therefore failure-prone monitoring schemes for first fault detection [Emphasis added here.]
 reliance on EMI protection components for system safety with no indication that these components are known to be present and correct at any specific point in time, and no testing done or statements to establish the system response with failed protection
 reliance on power supply regulation, smoothing and stabilization components for system safety with no indication that these components are known to be present and correct at a specific point in time and no testing done or statements about system response with failed components.
With reference to the here-italicized bullets I would note again that the use of a single analog to digital converter and the inclusion of the two processors in the single fault zone is stated by Koopman to inevitably result in undetected (actually, undetectable) faults of arbitrary effect, magnitude and duration, therefore including Uncommanded Acceleration.
So perhaps the important thing is what must happen now? The Federal Government has had an utterly dishonorable role in this. First of all it (DOT/NHTSA) ignored my, unsolicited and without fee, offer to help with review of materials associated with UA in any follow up to the Waxman-Stupak Committee hearings2. Then, on receipt of the NASA reports, Secretary LaHood claimed that they showed no electronic cause of UA, which is exactly what the reports did not say. When I wrote to him about this my comments were dismissed3. Furthermore, the NASA-NESC investigations were predicated on NHTSA-set terms of reference and timescale which were slanted towards not being able to find a specific potential cause of UA. They were also compromised by dishonestly incorrect and incomplete information from Toyota, which NHTSA does not have the expertise to detect (or, I think, procedures to punish?). I have heard that
2 I can see now that this offer would be difficult for them to accept, what with non-disclosure agreements and so on, but to ignore a citizen input/offer is more than impolite. I would have been happy with a brief acknowledgement and explanation. I think I have shown that I have expertise. But it’s not about me, it’s about the people that got hurt (including Dr. Gilbert , who demonstrated the double fault in the pedal circuit and was attacked by Toyota).
3 Letter to DOT Secretary LaHood and reply from Daniel C. Smith, NHTSA, previously supplied.
some of the NASA Engineers were painfully aware of the bias towards the “predetermined answer” and refused to sign the reports, no doubt at risk to their careers (they should, of course, be praised for their stand). So the result is that the agency of the Federal Government has acted publicly and dishonorably to shelter Toyota from the actions brought by those who have been injured by Toyota’s product and conduct. This is totally unacceptable. Ignorance and lack of expertise are no defense.
So, I would ask you to bring this up to the highest level in Government, to ensure that the errors are publicly acknowledged, that actions are put in place to remove them and provide restitution to those harmed, and to ensure that it does not happen again. Changes must urgently be made so that safety issues in NHTSA’s domain will be properly and completely dealt with, proactively instead of reactively. I suspect that ex-Secretary LaHood is now beyond the reach of discipline, but he should still receive public admonishment for his disgraceful role.
In view of the lack of closure on previous communications I request that you acknowledge receipt of this letter and advise me of what actions you will pursue.
Thank you,
Geoff Barrance
By e-mail

Overriding value of life



Value of life

From the California State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct:


Last night, along with around 18,000 other people, I attended the midnight funeral of a slain American-Israeli soldier who came from the breezy sand bar of South Padre Island, Texas, to fight againt Hamas and its cruel, grotesque sacrifice of its own people, deep within the booby-trapped urban labyrinth of north Gaza, around a mile from my own home. The parents flew from Texas to bury their son. At the graveside, a high-ranking officer gave the official military eulogy, and then after those many sad but brave words of Hebrew, I heard a few softly drawled words of English: "We love you more than words can say." 

I weep as I write this. Among the silent crowd in the dark, overshadowed by tall trees nourished over the years by the bones of our fallen boys, there were those who could weep and those who have come to a place of no longer weeping. We stood together to honor this young one. 

All of us alive today have a duty to our children to build and create a world where they can live with one another into the future, in safety and in peace. Certainly those who have been fortunate enough to be educated as officers of the world's highest courts must perform their duties not only to their clients, but to the public, to preserve life. It has overriding value.










Monday, July 21, 2014

Software engineer writes about Toyota's different planets, etc.


Different planets

Dear Tom, Lisa, and Kevin, one day if you ever get all my emails, you may find one written by a truly lofty software engineer with expertise in functional safety (who is not involved at all in the MDL) who writes:

"I dont think Toyota could ever be honest about their SUA problems.
The documents you made available [via a reporter] showed clearly that 
their Marketing and Engineering people are on different planets,
their engineers are massively out of date with Best Practice and trying to do the impossible and that the software is in a dreadful state.

I think it would bankrupt them financially if they admitted this, because of the loss of face, reputation, credibility and the re-engineering effort and recall costs. I think they are already morally bankrupt but thats just my opinion."


Messrs. Skadden, this outspoken man is not on the long list of experts who seem to have annoyed your client.
I will not give you his name now.

But are you sure you want to rifle through my in-box?

NASA'S Dr. Henning Leidecker goes on camera to say


NASA's tin whiskers expert Dr. Henning Leidecker goes on camera in an interview with Israel's Channel 2 correspondent Yigal Mosko. The interview was being conducted via Skype in the offices of the Heskia-Hacmun law firm, my Israeli lawyers in Tel Aviv, in March, 2014. It was shown on Channel 2's Ulpan Shishi program, our rough equivalent of 60 Minutes.

Dr. Leidecker said (I paraphrase) that tin whiskers in a Camry gas pedal [these cause resistive short circuits] were clearly associated with vehicle misbehavior. And he said that he admired my courage. Thank you Dr. Leidecker.

Dr. Leidecker is one of the 16 eminent engineers who are listed on my subpoena demand for documents.  In other words, Toyota's lawyers want to forensically examine every email and record of every phone call between me and them. For all time.

Among the emails, if they ever get them, they may find one in which Dr. Leidecker wrote "Truth is indeed important."

Tom, Lisa, Kevin, read that and pay attention.


National Law Journal: "A Translator Who Talked"


As I launch the legal defense fund to get set to defend against the subpoena, reporter Amanda Bronstadt, the reporter covering the Toyota MDL at the National Law Journal, published an article.

A Translator Who Talked story link

The Legal Defense Fund has launched now on Indiegogo, here.

I am happy.



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Plaintiffs counsel (played by Bruce McGill) at Dr. Jeffrey Wigand deposition in "The Insider"


And he will testify, whether you like it or not!





Why I keep blogging



Why do I keep blogging when the DOJ has spoken, the plaintiffs are settling, the class action economic losses is settled, and the public has learned in the Bookout trial that the Toyota Camry has defective software that can definitely cause SUA?

Here below is just one example of why I keep blogging. I found this on Toyota.pissedconsumer.com  /sudden acceleration. This is about DANGER and injustice to consumers.

And it keeps happening, and none of the above facts has changed this reality for vulnerable consumers AT ALL.

頑固 Stubborn Betsy


May 26, 2014
By Anonymous
In June of 2013, I pulled into my daughter's driveway and was stopped. Suddenly my
Toyota Camry accelerated and lunged into the brick house. The cost to fix house $5000
and car $3300. LAST WEEK, I had a repeat occurrence when driving, I put my blinker on to change to R. lane, which I did and the car accelerated and LUNGED into the car
in front of me.Both cars were quite damaged, and I again will be charged with an
accident. This car has lunged unexpectedly before but fortunately did not cause an
accident (more room). My driving record is clear except for these two unfortunate wrecks
*****************************************************
And in case you may think this driver's story is an outlier or just another case of pedal confusion, there is evidence to the contrary. The NHTSA complaint statistics show that incidents keep occuring, even post-recall and recent Toyota models. And Cole Portis, the Beasley Allen lawyer who beat Toyota in the Bookout wrongful death case, commented on camera when interviewed by Israel's Channel 2 correspondent Yigal Mosko that his law firm receives so many inquiries about SUA incidents from harmed consumers, he is confident that "thousands and thousands" of incidents are occurring on an ongoing basis. 

The dangerous vehicles are not fixed by settlements. The story is not over. 

Here's a picture of Cole Portis being interviewed via Skype by Yigal Mosko. Thanks to Beasley Allen media lady Helen Taylor for arranging it.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Eric Holder: Toyota "Showed a blatant disregard for systems and laws designed to look after the safety of consumers."


Dirty hands department:

Lest we forget, a mere few months ago, in March, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had this to say about Toyota, on the occasion of its criminal investigation settlement:

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Toyota engaged in a cover-up to keep selling cars, even though it knew it had problems. He called the automaker’s behavior “shameful.” “It showed a blatant disregard for systems and laws designed to look after the safety of consumers,” he said. “By the company’s own admission, it protected its brand ahead of its own customers.”

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140715/AUTO01/307150090#ixzz37cMRySzv


David Shepardson, bless you, but Russell Mokhiber of Corporate Crime Reporter went further. His story raises questions similar to my own about what might have been happening behind the scenes in downtown Manhattan.

Toyota Gets Prosecution Deferred, No Corporate Crime Plea, No Individuals Charged

You have to hand it to James Johnson, Matthew Fishbein and Helen Cantwell of Debevoise & Plimpton.
They represented Toyota Motor Co. and in the face of a mountain of evidence pointing to criminal wrongdoing.
And they still got from the federal government what the giant automaker wanted — no criminal plea agreement, no individuals charged.
Federal officials this morning charged that Toyota criminally defrauded consumers by issuing misleading statements about safety issues in Toyota and Lexus vehicles.
In the deferred prosecution agreement, Toyota admitted that it misled consumers by concealing and making deceptive statements about two safety issues affecting its vehicles, each of which caused a type of unintended acceleration.
******************************************************************************
Meanwhile, if anyone has heard a word about the Independent Monitor that was supposed to watch over Toyota's behavior and transparency, please let me know. I haven't any evidence whatsoever that the monitor has actually been appointed. It is now July. The settlement was in March. Where are you, oh Mr./Ms. Monitor?
And while we are at it, I raise a question about what is really on those hands. Is it dirt, or is it blood?


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Parris Boyd, the pithy critic of Toyota, tells it straight




Parris Boyd writes a blog.

I can't resist quoting him on the Honda recall for electronically-induced sudden acceleration:

"I'd be willing to wager that Honda wanted to get the jump on other automakers in an effort to make themselves look good by being the first to admit that electronic defects caused unintended acceleration. Growing public awareness of the facts has shown that the days of blaming "pedal misapplication" are all but over, and it's now a case of the devil takin' the hindmost regarding which automakers would step forward and come clean."

Boyd blog here

Senators: Make it crime for auto execs to hide safety issue



According to the Detroit News,
U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Bob Casey, D-Penn., said Tuesday they will introduce the 10-page Hide No Harm Act of 2014Full article - make crime - auto execs who hide safety issues

A few key excerpts here. Article contains link to full text of bill.



From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140715/AUTO01/307150090#ixzz37bDpxmxl