Evans v. Toyota Motor Corporation
Case Study 3
Stephenville trial lawyer Ernest H. Cannon has fought for fair and just compensation against some of the world’s largest and most powerful corporate entities, including Toyota Motor Corporation. Evans was enlisted by the estate of deceased Sugar Land resident Lise Evans in a product liability lawsuit against the Japanese auto manufacturer.
Credit: Associated Press
In 2002, the 35-year old woman drove her Toyota Land Cruiser into her garage and shifted the transmission into what she thought was Park. Unbeknownst to her, however, the transmission had actually fallen into a transitional stage between Park and Reverse. As she got out and began unloading the Land Cruiser, the vehicle rolled backward, with its open door pinning her against the garage wall and causing fatal injuries.
As the plaintiff’s attorney, Ernest Cannon filed a lawsuit on the grounds of strict liability as well as breach of warranty, negligence, and misrepresentation. The lawsuit charged that Toyota should have designed the transmission so that it couldn’t get dangerously stuck between Park and Reverse. Adding insult to injury, Toyota’s legal team neglected to tell Evans’ family that a similar incident had occurred just one year before, instead claiming that it had knowledge of any related issues caused by the vehicle’s transmission design.
In this case and numerous other, Toyota had evidently adopted a regular policy of evasion and stalling in its responses to requests for discovery information. Ernest Cannon publicly called Toyota out for its behavior, stating that "Automobile manufacturers, in my practice, have been the toughest to deal with when it comes to sharing information, but Toyota has no peer.” The sheer number of lawsuits against the automaker for injuries or deaths related to rollovers and sudden acceleration incidents led to their consolidation into a massive class-action suit filed in the State of California.