So Cal Prosecutors File First Consumer Protection Suit Against Toyota

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer
so cal prosecutors file first consumer protection suit against toyota

Reuters reports that Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas along with private attorneys filed the first U.S. consumer protection lawsuit against Toyota USA. The main charge is that Toyota has endangered the public by selling defective vehicles and engaged in deceptive business practices. From the 18 page suit filed Friday morning:

“Against this backdrop of fraud and concealment, Toyota has for decades touted its reputation for safety and reliability and knew that people bought its vehicles because of that reputation and yet purposefully chose to conceal and suppress the existence and nature of defects,”

The suit seeks to restrain Toyota “from continuing to endanger the public through the sale of defective vehicles and deceptive business practices.” Toyota said it has no immediate comment.

Rackauckas is a Republican who is also up for re-election this year. He defended his hiring of private attorneys, and said that they will be paid out of any proceeds from the lawsuit. One lone protester at the courthouse insisted that the suit was being done for political gain.

Rackauckas told reporters he was becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of consumers and that his office has jurisdiction because Toyota’s U.S. headquarters is in California.

The suit charges that Toyota knew about the defects in “selling and leasing hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks with defects that caused sudden unexpected and uncontrollable acceleration.”

From the Detroit News:

Legal experts said they were surprised by Rackauckas’ suit. “It’s very unusual for a product liability matter to turn into a criminal or consumer fraud investigation,” said Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor now a partner with McCarter & English in Newark, N.J.

Ed Higgins, co-head of the product liability practice group at Plunkett Cooney in Detroit, said the county’s action was “extremely uncommon.”

And thus it begins. Or continues.

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2 of 18 comments
  • Potemkin Potemkin on Mar 13, 2010

    Why is it so hard to believe that Toyota would lie and cheat for a better bottom line. They are no different than our own home grown Wall Street types. Toyota is not the first or last company to make safety decisions based on cost or hide negative blowback from those decisions. Based on Mr Toyoda's answers on The Hill they have something to hide. I say drag them thru court and see what happens.

  • Mtymsi Mtymsi on Mar 13, 2010

    The fact that this clown is up for re-election says it all. Nothing beats free publicity especially slanted to appear that the politician has gone to bat for the beleaguered consumer.

  • Art Vandelay I’d grab one of these if I’d spent my working life at GM for sure!
  • Analoggrotto The factory is delayed due to an investigation of a peter puffery ring lead by VoGhost, Tassos, EBFlex a Chevrolet Volt.
  • FreedMike Looking forward to the protests at the factory accusing Toyota of excessive woke-ism. First,, grooming. Lord help us all.
  • MrIcky I remember when Gladiators came out and everyone was shocked at how expensive they were. Now all the off road specials have caught up or passed it financially. I like this truck a lot, but I'd still take my Rubicon over this. I'd take this over the Ranger Raptor or Tacoma TRD though. When I found out the increase in track for the new TRD was just wheel offset-I knew they were just phoning it in. Why spend so much R&D on those stupid seats when you could have r&d'd longer arms or a front locker.
  • Alan Hmm, I see a bit of politicking here. What qualifications do you need to run GM or Ford? I'd bet GM or Ford isn't run by experienced people. Anyone at that level in an organisation doesn't need to be a safety whip, you need to have the ability to organise those around you to deliver the required results.