February 26, 2010
One of the fiery moments in Tuesday’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee was Rep. Steven Buyer’s (R-Ind.) prosecutorial turn on SRS founder and President Sean Kane. Buyer attempted to undermine Kane’s testimony, and that of Dr. David Gilbert, whose early research into Toyota’s accelerator pedal position sensor showed that Toyota’s fail-safe strategy was supremely flawed, by suggesting that they had been tainted by their ties to litigation.
We will concede that Buyer is an expert on ethics violations. According to reporting by the good folks at the Indianapolis Star, he is resigning at the end of his term amid a scandal over the Frontier Foundation, which Buyer founded in 2003 to provide college scholarships. The foundation, headed by Buyer and his immediate family members, has yet to award its first scholarship, but has handed out $10,500 in charitable grants, to a man whose house burned down, the National Rifle Association and a cancer fund run an Eli Lilly and Co. lobbyist, the Star has reported. Almost all of the $880,000 raised via charity golf events in luxury locales came from large corporations which have interests before the Energy and Commerce Committee (including Eli Lilly), the Star has reported.
The congressman didn’t want Kane to give complete answers – that would dry up Buyer’s hard rain of insinuations right quick. So, we thought we’d take the time to shed light on what we do and why we do it.
Safety Research & Strategies is a research and advocacy consulting firm. We are not expert witnesses and do not provide testimony in litigation. We are researchers. In the simplest terms: we collect the facts. We collect as many of them as we can find and then we analyze what those facts mean. We do this work for government, industry, and yes, plaintiffs’ lawyers – men and women who represent ordinary people who have suffered death and grievous injuries from defective products and have no other voice or means to seek justice.
We go where those facts take us. And when we see that the facts point to a defect trend, we use them to advocate for change. That might mean an amendment to an outmoded or inadequate regulation or to push for a recall. Safety Research & Strategies is a small company, yet our successes are many. This is because each and every one of us takes pride in our research work. But we are most proud of the times we can turn the information we’ve collected into a meaningful social change that makes all of our lives safer.
At the beginning of our Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration report, we thanked five lawyers who sponsored some of our initial research into this widespread defect. We wanted to acknowledge that someone paid us to get started. But we undertook the report and gave it out to anyone who wanted to read it, because we felt that this was an important safety issue which had been ignored and a factual accounting of what had happened was needed. For the same reason, we traveled to Washington to appear before Congress at our own expense.
We are in the research and advocacy business and we stand behind our work. Read it. Feel free to alert us if you can find any factual errors – if you do, we’re glad to address them immediately.