A California court has been asked to open sealed records relating to an expert witness for automakers who was accused of tampering with evidence.
Robert Gratzinger, who regularly testifies for automakers in lawsuits, was accused of misconduct during a 2002 trial involving a Honda rollover accident.
But records were sealed when American Honda Motor Co. settled the case. And the tampering allegation cannot be raised to challenge the credibility of the expert in new cases, according to plaintiffs' lawyers and the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer group.
So, in an unusual legal maneuver, two trial lawyers and the center are asking the Superior Court of Placer County, Calif., to unseal the records from the 3-year-old settlement. They believe the decision could influence a series of cases pending against automakers.
"I'm confident that we're going to prevail," Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Washington-based center, told Automotive News last week.
A hearing is expected late this month.