Malautea v. Suzuki Motor Corp. 1/10/94

Malautea v. Suzuki Motor Corp., United States District Court, Southern District of Georgia, Savannah Division (1/10/94)

Default judgment had previously been entered by district court judge due to Suzuki's calculated concealment of evidence in violation of court orders. There had been over 130 Samurai rollover cases filed in the U.S. before this case was first filed. Plaintiffs proved in this case, for the first time, that General Motors had rejected Suzuki's request that GM import the Samurai into this country because GM found the vehicle would have "unacceptable rollover tendencies." Suzuki's response was to import and sell the vehicle anyway. Plaintiffs proved in this case, for the first time, that at the same time Suzuki was telling the government (NHTSA) that the Samurai did not have a rollover defect, it had contracted with Lotus of Great Britain to evaluate that very problem in the Samurai and advise Suzuki and GM how that problem could be remedied in the 'next generation' vehicle which Suzuki and GM planned to sell if the rollover problem could be remedied. Suzuki ignored the findings by Lotus. Plaintiffs proved in this case, for the first time, that NHTSA's refusal to conduct a defect investigation of the Samurai was politically motivated and that Suzuki's campaign to prevent that investigation reached all the way to the White House. The default judgment was affirmed by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that Suzuki had compounded its discovery abuse in the district court by engaging in "bold falsehoods" before the appeals court.

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