Corporations Have Due Process Rights in Class Actions, Toyota Argues

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on September 12, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Is Toyota's trial plan is annoying plaintiffs?

The automaker is currently fighting a class action lawsuit that alleges the recent safety recalls lowered the value of the plaintiffs' Toyota cars.

In response to the litigation, Toyota's legal team is looking to depose about 250 economic loss plaintiffs through the year 2013. And, the plaintiffs are none-too-pleased with this request.

Plaintiffs are saying that Toyota's plan would make for a very inefficient trial. They are seeking to limit Toyota's depositions to about 50 plaintiffs, Reuters reports.

In seeking the vast amount of discovery, Toyota's general counsels and outside attorneys are likely only doing what they think is right for the company.

After all, evidence - including information obtained through depositions - can make or break a case.

And, Toyota's attorneys likely have another reason to fight the plaintiffs' request to limit the number of depositions they take. They claim that limiting the number of depositions would be violating a corporate defendant's due process rights, Reuters reports.

Specifically, Toyota attorneys point to the Supreme Court's decision in Walmart's sex-discrimination class action suit that emphasized a corporation's right to due process.

Toyota's actions may be relevant to general counsels everywhere. Defending a corporation against lawsuits requires strategy. And, ensuring that the company's legal interests are looked after might also mean ensuring the proper amount of discovery.

Should Toyota's trial plan be tempered with the desire to maintain good relationships with their customers? For example, drawing out litigation may mean that plaintiffs are more likely to settle. It could also mean that Toyota's attorneys will discover more information through discovery. But, will it also mean that plaintiffs will be less likely to buy a Toyota the next time they decide to purchase a car?

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