Lawsuit Claims Toyota Secretly Bought Back Defective Cars

The continuing turmoil at Toyota Motor Corporation seems to have no end. According to the Denver Post, the automotive giant purchased vehicles from drivers who reported that their cars were plagued with sudden acceleration issues. Toyota neglected to advise federal regulators, wrote the Denver Post, citing court documents filed in litigation against Toyota.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers contend the Japanese company more or less forced car owners to sign confidentiality agreements so that they would be unable to publicly discuss their vehicles’ issues, wrote the Denver Post. Some of the cases go back to 2006 and, in those cases, technicians at Toyota experienced unintended acceleration—speeding without depressing the gas pedal—said the Denver Post, citing documents filed last week in U.S. District Court.

Toyota spokesman Mike Michels denied allegations that Toyota long knew about the sudden acceleration problems, but neglected to act to correct the issues, and argued that its technicians could not replicate sudden acceleration problems, said the Denver Post. “After having thoroughly analyzed these vehicles and driven them for thousands of miles, Toyota (technicians) and engineers have not been able to replicate the customers’ acceleration concerns nor found any related issues or conditions in these vehicles,” Michels said in a statement. “In fact, test driving of these vehicles is ongoing and they are operating safely,” quoted the Denver Post.

Lawsuits being filed against the automaker are on the rise, including at least one lawsuit initiated by an insurer. Allstate Insurance Co has sued Toyota Motor Corporation and is looking for over $3 million it and its affiliates paid in claims over accidents connected to the widely publicized unintended acceleration problem.

Christina Loznicka, Allstate spokeswoman told Reuters, “We are expected to be one of several insurance companies that are taking this action.” Allstate alleges that Toyota ignored evidence pointing to its vehicles’ acceleration problems and that it also did not install a brake override system it stated would have averted accidents, said NewsCenter. Allstate also alleged that Toyota “essentially hid the problem,” when it should have recalled or redesigned the defective vehicles, quoted NewsCenter. “This has resulted in numerous claims of instances of property damage and injuries, including in some instances, fatalities,” the suit says, added NewsCenter.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it is likely that Toyota vehicles have been involved in about 90 deaths linked to unintended acceleration crashes since 2000. Since last November, Toyota has recalled many millions of vehicles worldwide over floor-mat interference and sticking pedal problems that may lead to incidents of unintended acceleration. Some vehicles are subject to both recalls.

Despite its assertions of innocence, beleaguered Toyota Motor Corporation just settled a lawsuit with the relatives of four family members who were killed in a horrific accident in San Diego that involved California Highway Patrol trooper Mark Saylor (45); his wife, Cleofe (45); Mahala, their 13-year-old daughter; and Chris Lastrella (38), their brother-in-law; all four perished. Details of the chilling accident included 911 tapes of the family asking one another to pray just before their deaths in an out-of-control 2009 Lexus that plummeted over an embankment and burst into flames.

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