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Class-action civil lawsuit filed against Kobe Steel, Toyota over falsified data

Staff Writer |
Kobe Stee said that it is being sued by two consumers in the United States for potentially using materials in vehicles that did not meet industry requirements.

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Kobe Steel also said the class-action civil lawsuit has been filed against Toyota Motor Corp. by the plaintiffs who are looking for compensation.

The plaintiffs claim that they would not have either purchased or leased the vehicles as the potentially affected products' resale value would drop or be negligible if the vehicle were to be resold.

The plaintiffs claim that if they had prior knowledge that substandard metal had possibly been used in the vehicles that did not fulfill legal durability standards, they would not have purchased the vehicles.

According to local media accounts here of the law case, the class-action civil lawsuit was filed in California with a federal court.

The lawsuit has been lodged against Kobe Steel, four of its subsidiaries and Toyota.

Kobe Steel has yet to determine if the case will adversely affect its business or if other similar cases will follow.

A company official was quoted by local media as saying a formal complaint and request for a specific amount of compensation has yet to be received.

On March 6, Kobe Steel said its chief executive officer will resign to account for the firm's string of data fabrication scandals.

The scandals have had a wide-reaching impact on industries both domestically and internationally and sullied the reputation of manufacturers in Japan amid a slew of other quality control scandals.

Kobe Steel has admitted to falsifying inspection data for aluminum and copper products with the affected materials being sent to 600 companies.

The scandal-mired steelmaker, Japan's third-largest, said in October last year that it had found cases of improprieties regarding inspection data that failed to meet industry inspection standards.

The results of an internal probe initially found that products sold that had their inspection data fabricated were shipped to hundreds of companies with the number set to balloon exponentially.

Japan's quality control authorities subsequently revoked certification for some copper products of a Kobe Steel subsidiary and the Japanese government said it had tasked industrial standards-approved bodies to carry out inspections at Kobe Steel Ltd.'s plants in an effort to deal with the company's wide-reaching falsified inspection data scandal.

Kobe Steel Ltd. had initially admitted to falsifying inspection data on a number of its products, including aluminum, copper, steel powder and special steel products.

It came to light that the embattled steel maker's own investigations had, additionally, revealed cover-ups and more incidents of data falsification thereafter.

Companies ranging from automakers and airplane manufacturers, to defense equipment and Shinkansen bullet train makers, have been affected by the falsified data.

In Japan, major railway operators Central Japan Railway and West Japan Railway have stated that their Shinkansen bullet trains contained aluminum parts sourced from Kobe Steel that did not meet industry standards.

Beyond automakers and trains, Kobe Steel has also been implicated in fabricating data for aerospace and defense-related products.

Along with domestic firms such as Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and major Japanese railway operators, the scandal has also affected overseas companies including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Airbus and Boeing Co.

These companies have been undertaking investigations to see if their products have been adversely affected by Kobe Steel's erroneous data-related practices.

Based on this, the U.S. Department of Justice ordered Kobe Steel to handover documents relevant to the data falsification scandal.

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