Toyota Lawsuits Breaking Out All Over

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
toyota lawsuits breaking out all over

As we fumble towards a more complete understanding of Toyota’s stunning fall from grace, we’ve only uncovered a single class of people who truly stand to benefit from the last several weeks of hysteria: the lawyers, of course. Thanks to Toyota’s deep reserves of cash, every single possible damage incurred in the last several weeks will be picked over for an opportunity to sue the world’s largest automaker, and already the suits have crossed over into the realm of the absurd. Automotive News [sub] reports on latest class-action suit charge against Toyota, which seeks damages from the automaker for diminished resale value and lost use of recalled vehicles. These charges have been filed as class-action suits in “at least 30 states,” and lawyers suggest that the damages could run as high as $2b. Ford paid Explorer owners $500 a piece when it settled similar class-action suits in the wake of its Firestone safety scandal.

In addition to similar suits filed by owners of recalled models, a whole category of suits alleges that Toyota’s defects have not been properly addressed, opening class action suits to nearly every Toyota owner, including earlier non-recalled models. These range from braking issues (because who doesn’t want to believe that a rear-ender wasn’t their fault) to blaming electronic throttle control units for unintended acceleration. Suits have even been filed alleging that Prius headlights burn out to quickly. In the rush to pile onto Toyota, no shortcoming is going untouched.

Other suits have been filed to recover stock losses incurred by Toyota investors in recent weeks. One such suit alleges:

Toyota, certain affiliates and certain officers and directors misled investors when they failed a major design defect in the acceleration system in several models of their vehicles. Due to the allegedly false and misleading statements, Toyota stock traded at artificially inflated prices during the relevant period.

Because stock investment (like driving a car) should be a risk-free endeavor? Apparently so, as 25 firms with securities suits have already formed a legal consortium.

And before you write these suits off as nothing more than another symptom of America’s litigious society, consider that recall-related suits are being filed against Toyota around the world, including South Africa, where one plaintiff is complaining that his unintended acceleration complaints were ignored by Toyota for years.

All of which adds further uncertainty to the situation, as the Toyota recall scandal moves past being a safety scare (and a relatively minor one, as auto safety scares go) to being a legal bonanza. Unintended acceleration is a tough case to blame on the manufacturer, as safeguards exist that could have allowed drivers of runaway vehicles to stop acceleration (it’s called shifting into neutral). The hybrid brake issue is similarly difficult to prove, as plaintiffs are likely to be asked to prove that driver distraction or malfeasance weren’t factors in their individual cases.

For now though, a media frenzy has clearly shifted interest in the Toyota case from keeping people safe to making an easy buck off of a deep-pocketed and deeply-embarrassed company. After all, the lawyers know that the more Toyota fights these cases, the worse it is for their PR. How ironic it would be if Toyota had to match the $2b it’s spending on vehicle repairs with settlements to make the legal gadflies go away.

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  • Suprarush Suprarush on Feb 16, 2010

    November 26, 2009 Transport Canada applauds Toyota's action to protect consumers OTTAWA — Transport Canada today announced that Toyota Canada has identified a set of corrective measures to assist its Canadian customers who are affected by a safety issue involving the accelerator pedal on certain Toyota and Lexus models. Transport Canada has worked with Toyota Canada on this issue to ensure corrective actions were taken and that the safety of consumers is protected. Canadian owners of affected Toyota and Lexus vehicle models will be notified directly by Toyota about these measures. Transport Canada will require Toyota Canada to report back to the department on its progress, as per the terms of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Toyota Canada announced today that there is no risk of accelerator pedal entrapment when compatible Toyota and Lexus Canadian-designed all-weather floor mats are properly used in the affected models, as they are different in design and material composition than the Toyota-supplied mats in the United States. Toyota Canada also said that properly installed and secured compatible carpet floor mats do not give rise to pedal entrapment. Today's notice follows an advisory in late September that driver's side floor mats be removed from certain Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Transport Canada is pleased that Toyota Canada is undertaking a safety improvement campaign for Canadian customers to provide information about: reconfiguration of the accelerator pedal for the seven affected models; reconfiguration of the shape of the floor surface to increase the space between the accelerator pedal and the floor for the Lexus ES350, Camry and Avalon models; and installation of a brake override system for the Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES350, IS350 and IS250 models. A safety campaign will also be initiated for Toyota Venza vehicles equipped with a genuine Toyota Canada driver's side all-weather floor mat. Until owners of Venza vehicles receive their notice of the campaign, Toyota recommends that they remove any genuine Toyota driver's side all-weather floor mat from their vehicle. Toyota has determined that the genuine Toyota carpeted floor mat is compatible with the vehicle and recommends at this time that only the original equipment carpet floor mat be installed, using the retaining clips provided. Customers should also ensure it is properly installed and secured, that it is not flipped over with the bottom-side up and that one floor mat is not stacked over another. If a customer does not know or is not sure whether the driver's side mat in the vehicle is correct for or compatible with his or her vehicle, Transport Canada advises the customer to remove it. For additional information about floor mats, customers can visit their Toyota dealership, or the Transport Canada website at Toyota Canada will be providing an educational advisory to other Toyota and Lexus customers with information on proper mat installation procedures. Toyota Canada reminds all its customers to register any address or ownership changes to allow for prompt notification.

  • Suprarush Suprarush on Feb 16, 2010

    Notice the date on this recall and how Toyota has "struggled" to keep this a secret as well as bully Transport Canada. Road Safety Recalls Database Print this Page Transport Canada Recall # 2006168 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Recall Date 2006/07/11 Notification Type Safety Mfr System Fabrics Manufacturer Recall Number 609 Units Affected 14,510 Category SUV Recall Details On certain vehicles, due to the improper installation of the retaining clips for the floor carpet cover located in front of the center console, there is a possibility that the clips may become loose. If both clips separate from the floor carpet cover, the cover may lean toward the accelerator pedal, causing interference with the accelerator pedal rod. In the worst case, the accelerator pedal may become stuck in a partially depressed position when returning to the idle position. Correction: Dealers will install new clips. Make Model Model Year(s) Affected LEXUS RX 330 2004 2005 2006 LEXUS RX 400H 2004 2005 2006 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER 2004 2005 2006 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER HV 2004 2005 2006

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.