Toyota executives head to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for the first of three hearings on the automaker’s product safety record — a trip to the political woodshed that could get the company into a deeper legal thicket in courts around the country.
Plaintiffs lawyers on Monday said they will be watching testimony closely. So, too, presumably, will prosecutors and regulators who are mounting investigations into Toyota’s handling of braking and acceleration problems in several of its vehicles.
Toyota executives are “going to have to show that they acted with reasonable speed when they knew about a real defect and that they were honest with their customers and the American people,” said Victor Schwartz, a partner in Shook, Hardy & Bacon’s Washington office. Schwartz, who is not involved in any Toyota cases, represented Bridgestone/Firestone in a U.S. Senate investigation in 2000 after the company recalled 6.5 million tires.