Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Toyota , Earnings/Financials A total of 22.6 million current and former Toyota owners have been sent notices that they may be eligible to receive compensation from the automaker for damages related to the unintended acceleration fiasco that has dominated headlines in 2009 and 2010. The total payout may be as high as $1.63 billion, according to The Detroit News . Steve Berman, a lawyer for the owners, calls the potential deal “a landmark, if not a record, settlement in automobile defects class action litigation in the United States.” Still, there’s some debate about whether or not Toyota’s proposed settlement is fair, as it includes $30 million for safety research and driver education programs – in other words, Toyota seems to be suggesting that drivers need more education on how to drive their correctly working and fully functional vehicles. For those keeping track, Toyota would also be paying lawyer fees of $200 million. A US District Judge in California is scheduled to hold a so-called “fairness hearing” on June 14 that could decide the fate of this particular settlement. Further courtroom wrangling will be required to hash out any wrongful death suits levied against Toyota stemming from unintended acceleration claims, as those are not part of this class-action suit. Toyota sudden acceleration class action may cover 22 million owners originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 16 May 2013 09:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Government/Legal , Recalls , Lexus , Toyota Toyota Motor Corp. has decided to settle a shareholder class action lawsuit for $25.5 million. The suit began in early 2010 after reports of accidents attributed to unintended acceleration cropped up. The class action accused Toyota of improperly disclosing “safety and quality issues” related to those reports. The company later recalled as many as 10 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles in a program estimated to cost $5 billion. The public relations fallout dragged down the company’s stock value by $30 billion. The Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, a member of the lawsuit class, had previously estimated a successful trial could have ended with as much as a $124 million payout. If you hold Toyota stock, though, don’t start spending your winnings just yet. First, common stockholders were disqualified from the suit in 2011. Only claims by investors in Toyota’s American Depository Shares are covered.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Toyota U.S. District Judge James Selna – who has presided over the unintended acceleration cases against Toyota since 2010 – says the automaker does not have the right to compel 20 named plaintiffs into arbitration. The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for lawsuits covering economic losses from the alleged issue of unintended acceleration . Toyota had maintained that leasing and purchase agreements signed by the owners denies owners the right to class-action litigation. According to Bloomberg , although the ruling covers all 20, the are two kinds of plaintiffs in this instance. The judge decided that Toyota had lost its right to arbitration with fifteen of the plaintiffs only because Toyota waited so long to pursue it. Selna concluded that since the plaintiffs had come so far in the litigation process that “They would be prejudiced if their claims were required to be submitted to arbitration now.” Selna further denied Toyota’s right to arbitration with the remaining five because “the carmaker wasn’t a party to the arbitration agreements between the plaintiffs and the Toyota dealers.” The ruling finalizes the tentative decision Selna issued last month. Class-action status for the plaintiffs, however, has not yet been granted. Three trials are scheduled for next year, and they will be used to set precedents for evidence, liability and theories. It is expected that a final decision on class-action status will come after the conclusion of those three cases.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Toyota U.S. District Judge James V. Selna has dismissed the first unintended acceleration lawsuit against Toyota in California on the grounds that it should have been filed in Utah. Automotive News reports that the case was brought to court by the families of two people killed in a Utah crash in 2010. Judge Selna found that a federal warranty claim in the lawsuit failed to meet a required threshold of $50,000. The warranty claim was levied toward the dealer that sold the vehicle, and since the judge ruled that the plaintiffs couldn’t use personal injury or punitive damages in warranty claim, the lawsuit fell short of the threshold. That meant that the case fell back under Utah jurisdiction. Meanwhile, Mark Robinson, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said that he’s already working to draft another complaint that leaves the dealer out as a defendant altogether. Doing so will allow the suit to go forward seeking full punitive damages. The suit alleges that Toyota failed to install a brake override system or otherwise prevent unintended acceleration.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Toyota It already seems as though Toyota’s unintended acceleration issues came to a head a lifetime ago, but the courts won’t be ready to hear the first case for a long while. Bloomberg reports that U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in California said on the court’s website that the first case has tentatively been set for the first quarter of 2013. The first case to come before the court will reportedly be the Van Alfen suit. Paul Van Alfen and a passenger were killed in a November 5, 2010 accident in which his 2008 Toyota Camry crashed into a wall after reportedly accelerating unexpectedly at an exit ramp in Wendover, Utah. The suit claims that the vehicle failed to stop even after Van Alfen slammed on the brakes. Van Alfen’s wife and son were injured in the accident, and the two are among the family members suing Toyota. The first case may not be until 2013, but courts will likely be buzzing with activity in the years ahead. Toyota recalled millions of vehicles in the United States for floor mats and sticking accelerator pedals in 2009 and 2010, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records show that over 100 deaths could be attributable to the automaker’s unintended acceleration issues.