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Settlement will cover equipment installation, compensation for lost value

Steve W. Berman, Managing Partner at Hagens Berman, has achieved a key victory over what is expected to be the world's largest automaker in 2012.  

Toyota Motor Comp. (TYO:7203) on Wednesday filed documents to settle a major class action lawsuit organized by Mr. Berman over unintended acceleration in a variety of models.  The case was being held in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, in Santa Ana, Calif.

Under the settlement terms [PDF], Toyota will set aside an estimated $1.2-1.4B USD, making the settlement agreement the biggest in automotive history, according to Mr. Berman's team.  The settlement fund will be used to compensate the owners of 3.25m Toyota vehicles for lost resale value.  The owners will also be eligible for free installation of a brake-override system.

After a fiery crash of a Lexus (Toyota's luxury brand) killed four in California in 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a formal investigation into acceleration issues.  While some suspected electrical origins for the issue, no such issue was ever replicated.  Ultimately the problems were blamed on faulty floor mats, which could entrap pedals on the Toyota vehicles, leaving drivers unable to brake.  Millions of vehicles were recalled in the company's largest recall ever.  Toyota was forced to also temporarily suspend sales in 2010.

Toyota Pedal
Toyota's acceleration issues were eventually pinned on faulty floor mats
[Image Source: Today's Machining World]

Mr. Berman praised Toyota's decision to settle the outstanding litigation and move ahead, commenting, "After two years of intense work, including deposing hundreds of engineers, poring over thousands of documents and examining millions of lines of software code, we are pleased that Toyota has agreed to a settlement that was both extraordinarily hard-fought and is exceptionally far-reaching."

Toyota chief North American legal officer -- Christopher P. Reynolds -- sought to take the opportunity to restate Toyota's point that its electronic systems were never proven to have issues, remarking, "This was a difficult decision -- especially since reliable scientific evidence and multiple independent evaluations have confirmed the safety of Toyota’s electronic throttle control systems."

Toyota vehicles
3.25 million vehicles are covered by the settlement. [Image Source: AP]

He adds, "[Ultimately] we concluded that turning the page on this legacy legal issue through the positive steps we are taking is in the best interests of the company, our employees, our dealers and, most of all, our customers."

Toyota certainly has enough resources to cover the settlement.  The company witnessed a rocky 2011 due to parts shortages from the tsunami and related domestic issues (see: Fukushima nuclear disaster).  But this year Toyota is expected to regain the sales crown, which was last year held by General Motors Comp. (GM).  Toyota is expected to announce sales rose 22 percent in 2012 to 9.7m vehicles, despite a Chinese boycott due to a territorial spat, more government fines, and more recalls.

Sources: Hagens Berman, Toyota [PDF], LA Times



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Paying for consumer stupidity
By Beenthere on 12/27/2012 1:47:01 PM , Rating: 2
Every test that was conducted by NHTSA and many other independent sources confirmed that there was no defect or reason other than operator error for the so called "unintended acceleration". It's no surprise that these "unintended acceleration" claims almost always exist in the U.S. where they hand out driver's licenses at Wally World.

The only thing that Toyota should be accountable for - indirectly, is the sticky accelerator pedal assemblies produce by a vendor - who also supplied sticky accelerator pedal assemblies to Ford and Chrysler. We don't see them being sued...yet but if the siren chasers think they can get some big money, they will sue anyone and everyone who has money.

The sticky accelerator pedals did not cause any accidents because the engines were essentially running at a high idle speed like when you start the engine cold. This lawsuit is a perfect example of U.S. stupidity and incompetence being paid for by a car maker, who did nothing wrong and who didn't sell a defective product.

BTW, I don't particularly like Toyota nor Honda and I have never owned one of their vehicles. The facts are the facts and this lawsuit should be tossed as it is meritless.




RE: Paying for consumer stupidity
By chick0n on 12/28/2012 5:13:55 AM , Rating: 2
welcome to the nanny state!!!!


"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer














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