|Toyota – the world’s largest automaker – has its troubles now, no doubt. More than 6 million cars recalled, product liability issues, injured drivers and a reputation badly beaten. Add to that, Congressional, federal grand jury and National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration investigations and at least 89 class-action lawsuits. Clearly, this is a top employer under siege as it is recalling millions of vehicles and trying to make corrections.
It’s odd to me that one of those 89-plus lawsuits comes from Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on behalf of the county “to protect the public and consumers.” What specifically is unique about O.C. cases that requires our DA to use this public office to pursue a civil case? Is it PR? Aren’t there enough lawsuits filed by those directly affected?
Rackauckas says the lawsuit was motivated by questioning if Toyota “puts profits over people.” Interesting choice of words for a DA who seeks monetary damages from a company through a contingency-fee agreement with a private law firm. Is this to fill his own diminished department coffers in a very tough economy? Determining whether or not Toyota “used deceptive business practices” should not be the responsibility of a county, nor the DA, nor is it good public policy in the trend by government agencies to use private contingency-fee lawyers to go after business. And please share with us, Mr. DA: Exactly what is your financial arrangement with the private law firm you hired to go after Toyota? OCBC recently launched a new Web site – californiasquirrel.com – to highlight the distractions elected officials concern themselves with instead of focusing attention on jobs creation by reducing fees and taxes, eliminating regulations and avoiding opportunities for frivolous lawsuits. This lawsuit looks like it belongs in the SQUIRREL category on two counts: First, there’s already plenty of litigation facing Toyota, and this suit smells like pile-on frivolous litigation benefiting contingency-fee lawyers, not the public; and second, any “penalties” the DA seeks to just get added to the price of the retrofitted, fixed cars, punishing the consumer/purchaser, jobs creation and the local economy.
Or maybe we'd just like to eliminate ANOTHER employer?
To see more Squirrel legislation, or to add your ideas of Squirrel!, visit californiasquirrel.com.