Toyota Lawsuit Allowed to go Forward

Good news for owners of Toyota vehicles. A federal judge just ruled that he will permit owners of Toyota Motor Corporation vehicles to proceed with a class action lawsuit that alleges that the highly publicized issue with unintended acceleration resulted in a drop in car value, wrote the LA Times.

Attorneys for the beleaguered auto giant requested that U.S. District Judge James Selna of Santa Ana, dismiss the case, arguing that attorneys for the plaintiff group were not able to isolate a defect in the vehicles, resulting in no case, said the LA Times. Judge Selna did not agree and, in a tentative ruling, is allowing the case to proceed.

Although the judge did not rule on the case’s merits, he said that he only needed to determine if the plaintiff groups had alleged something that, if valid, could create liability for Toyota, said the LA Times, which noted that a final ruling is expected within a week.

Meanwhile, 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.

The plaintiffs’ attorney is accusing Toyota of neglecting to respond to issues with electronic throttle control units, said the LA Times. Toyota continues to maintain that the issue is not with the units, but has to do with floor mats and sticky pedals.

In response to the ruling, Toyota issued the following statement Friday, quoted the LA Times: “Importantly, today’s hearing did not address the merits of plaintiffs’ allegations and did not consider any evidence,” the automaker said in a news release. “At this early stage, this analysis by the Court requires a basic assumption that the plaintiffs’ allegations are true, even though they are unproven. The burden is now squarely on plaintiffs’ counsel to prove their allegations and Toyota is confident that no such proof exists.”

We’ve been following the numerous debacles surrounding the auto giant, most recently writing that Toyota 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.

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.

Despite its assertions of innocence, 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 and three of his family members whose out-of-control 2009 Lexus plummeted over an embankment and burst into flames.

Help filing claims and other legal assistance for the victims of defective Toyota vehicles is available here.

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