Tort Law

Toyota Lawsuit Tally Tops 30, But One Multidistrict Case May Be the Result


In the wake of Toyota Motor Corp.’s well-publicized recalls of millions of cars over acceleration issues—and customer concerns that other models also have issues or have been adversely affected by the battering of the brand—at least 30 lawsuits have now been filed in the United States and Canada.

Many plaintiffs are filing suit concerning models that aren’t part of the recall, alleging a defect in the electronic throttle control panels of their vehicles, Bloomberg reports. Among the remedies being sought are restitution, disgorgement of profits and punitive damages.

In a federal lawsuit filed yesterday in the Southern District of Florida that seeks to represent some 5 million Toyota owners, the plaintiffs assert claims of breach of warranty, fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment and breach of the covenant of good faith, reports the Montgomery Advertiser.

“The complaint seeks justice for those people who rely on their vehicle for their livelihood, those who are making payments on an automobile that they are afraid to drive and those who have made payments on a car that they believed would last for many years and maintain value,” attorney Dee Miles of Beasley Allen told the newspaper in a written statement.

Attorney Michael Louis Kelly of Kirtland & Packard has filed two proposed class actions in California. But sooner or later, pretrial matters in all of the suits are going to be overseen by a single federal judge in multidistrict litigation, he tells Bloomberg. “Either Toyota will ask for it or we will.”

Toyota representatives declined substantive comment, according to Bloomberg, and did not return the Advertiser’s phone calls.

However, the company’s president apologized at a news conference in Japan today for the “crisis” and promised that the company would “do our utmost to regain the trust of our customers,” reports the New York Times. He also said Toyota would bring in outside experts to review quality controls, reports Reuters.

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Lawsuits Against Toyota Accelerate Amidst ‘Massive PR Mess’”

Market Watch (commentary): “Your car computer may kill you”

Nanotech: The Circuits Blog (CNet News): “Toyota sued for fatal crash linked to throttle”

Updated at 8:50 p.m. to include link to CNet blog.

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