A faulty seatbelt that traps an occupant in a vehicle and leads to his death is a horrible tragedy. If the defect were given a pass at the manufacturing plant, it goes beyond tragic to criminal. Toyota is now facing two lawsuits in California, both centered around manufacturing defects that may have been ignored at its joint-venture New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant.
We reported earlier on the first lawsuit filed by Katy Cameron, a NUMMI worker who alleges that vehicles with serious problems were passed out the door, even though the NUMMI plant purportedly subscribes to the "Toyota way" of manufacturing. Instead of empowering workers to spot and correct defects, even stop the assembly line to make things right, management at the NUMMI plant allegedly discouraged Cameron by demoting her.

A second lawsuit has also been filed by the Singh family, who are blaming the seatbelt latch in their 2002 Corolla for the death of Raminder Singh. The Singhs were involved in an accident that led to an engine fire, and while 19-year-old Gurinder Singh was able to exit the vehicle, his father remained trapped by his seatbelt despite Gurinder's efforts to unlatch it.

A spokesman for Toyota has been quoted as saying, "as heart-rending and tragic as this collision was, Toyota has an altogether different view of the facts." The facts will hopefully come to light during this civil trial, which heard opening statements on Tuesday.

Thanks for the tip, Jon!

[Source: Money/CNN]

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