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According to estimates by safety experts, about 19 accident fatalities so far have been directly associated with the problems of sudden acceleration that have caused Toyota to recall more than six million of its vehicles.

The real number may actually be much higher, however, because until the recent recall, when the accelerator problems became public knowledge, many accidents without a clear cause were attributed, vaguely, to “driver error.” Now that we know about the potential defect in so many Toyota vehicles, many families of accident victims are looking to re-examine the cause of a mysterious accident.

There are already more than 30 U.S. lawsuits filed against Toyota involving the problems with its gas pedals alone, according to Craig Hutson, senior investment grade analyst at Gimme Credit, a bond research service firm. And there are more lawsuits are in the works.

Hutson said beyond the cost of any jury verdicts or settlements, the lawsuits have the potential of causing continued damage to Toyota’s reputation, keeping the problems and company’s failures in the news…

He said if any documents come out which prove Toyota engineers knew something needed to be fixed, it will be difficult for Toyota to ever regain consumers’ trust. –CNNmoney.com

The cruel and dangerous irony here is that if documentary evidence shows Toyota lying, cheating and stealing, customers will no longer trust the company. But if Toyota has destroyed all documentary evidence of lying, cheating and stealing (as has been alleged) and none ever comes to light, it will probably be able to save its reputation in the end.

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