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Law Offices of Frank L. Branson Applauds Appellate Ruling to Keep Toyota Safety Records Unsealed

Texas judges cite public safety, documents from trial that led to $242M jury verdict 

DALLAS – A Texas appellate court has denied requests by Toyota Motor Sales USA to seal court files containing certain safety details, a move that trial lawyers at The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson said will enable consumers to see important details about Toyota car safety. 

The Branson firm is joined in the appeal by Harry Reasoner and Marie Yeates from Vinson & Elkins.

The ruling by Texas’ Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas found that the automaker cannot seal the exhibits because they were discussed during the trial without objection from Toyota’s lawyers. The three-judge panel also ruled that there is a public safety interest in keeping the files open.  

The ruling stems from a $242 million jury verdict won by The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson in 2018 on behalf of a Dallas-area family whose two young children suffered serious head injuries when defective seats in 2002 Lexus ES 300 collapsed in a rear-end collision. Following the trial, Toyota sought to seal internal documents obtained by the Branson team in hard-fought discovery leading up to the trial. Among the files that Toyota sought to seal were design guidelines for a “Whiplash Injury Lessening” seat, which was at issue in the Branson lawsuit. 

“Our civil justice system is the single most effective check on corporations that cut corners on safety,” said trial lawyer and firm founder Frank L. Branson. “Even when our cases have concluded, we will always fight to ensure the public has access to court files and information about the safety of the products they’re using. 

The case is Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. et al. v. Reavis et al., case number 05-19-00284-CV, in the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas. 

The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson represents clients in cases involving complex product liability, catastrophic injury, commercial air crashes, professional negligence, and business torts. To learn more about the firm, visit