Friday, June 12, 2015

UPDATE: Senator Blumenthal: Secret settlements play important role in allowing lethal defects to "fester"

Senator Blumenthal answers a question about secrecy.

Update and question: 
How many SUA wrongful death/ personal injury cases has Toyota now settled under secret terms? 
My guess--around 250.

Q: Honda was settling lawsuits with people, with confidential deals. How did that happen? There was no recall.
Blumenthal: "That is a profoundly important point. I proposed legislation that would end these secret settlements because sunshine in litigation is actually important for the public to be informed about these events that lead to litigation. Too often, the court approves these secret settlements. If the public were aware of the lawsuits that were brought, if they were settled in open view, available to the public, there would be much quicker and more vigorous actions to end the defects that lead to these horrendous crashes..."

A  horrendous crash...the outcome.
Secret settlements lead to shrapnel in eye 

Automotive news: airbag-investigators-focus-on-metal-shards-sprayed-at-crashes
Takata’s mounting troubles escaped public scrutiny for so long in part because the few lawsuits filed were generally settled quickly, before plaintiffs’ lawyers could seek internal documents from auto companies during pretrial discovery, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers. (Of 12 cases found involving Takata airbags, five have settled.)

The Toyota MDL is also full of secret settlements. Perhaps settlements themselves are not a bad thing, but the terms of secrecy are the problem when the product is dangerous. 

I do not understand why plaintiffs cannot force Toyota to disclose the settlement terms and the discovery findings as part of the settlement agreement, and I do not understand why vast numbers of US courts approve of these secret settlement terms.