Toyota Class Action Lawsuit

In December 2012, Toyota Motor Corp agreed to settle hundreds of U.S. consumer claims related to sudden unintended acceleration in its vehicles. The settlement, valued at $1.4 billion, is pending approval by U.S. District Judge James Selna, who is overseeing the multidistrict consolidated litigation. It would resolve claims of economic loss related to the defective vehicles. The proposed settlement would be the largest in U.S. history involving automotive defects.

Beasley Allen shareholder W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, head of the firm’s Consumer Fraud section, served on the Plaintiffs Liaison counsel for this litigation. The settlement does not cover claims of wrongful death and injury related to Toyota SUA.

The class action complaint charged Toyota with breach of warranty, fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment and breach of the covenant of good faith and alleges that Toyota has downplayed or dismissed owner complaints of sudden unintended acceleration, blaming it on driver error.

“This class settlement provides a very practical resolution for those Toyota car owners who experienced economic losses as a result of the Sudden Unintended Acceleration issue with their vehicles,” Miles says. “It compensates them for their financial losses. For those who have experienced serious personal injuries and families who are suffering the loss of a loved one as a result of the Sudden Unintended Acceleration issue, their day in court still awaits them and is fast approaching. The MDL trial court has done a tremendous job of moving these cases through the system and adequately protecting the interest of all concerned. MDL Judge James Selna’s highly skillful case management of these cases is the reason the parties are able to announce this resolution of the economic loss portion of the case today.”

The settlement agreement would establish a reserve of about $250 million for cash payments to Toyota customers who sold certain vehicles or turned in certain leased vehicles between September 2009 and December 2010. The agreement also would require Toyota to establish a $250 million program for current Toyota vehicle owners to provide a supplemental warranty and retrofit about 3.2 million vehicles with a brake override system. More information, including a copy of the proposed settlement agreement, is available on the Toyota Settlement website at www.toyotaelsettlement.com.

Since 2009, Toyota has recalled 14 million vehicles worldwide for sudden unintended acceleration problems, paid record fines for violating recall procedures required under U.S. safety regulations, and became the subject of a congressional investigation. Toyota has blamed the problems on faulty floor mats and stuck accelerator pedals. Many safety experts and plaintiffs’ lawyers, however, blame Toyota’s sudden-acceleration incidents on a highly obscure electronic malfunction – a claim that Toyota disputes.

The Beasley Allen firm is also handling individual product liability lawsuits where deaths and disabling injuries are involved.

Beasley Allen lawyers will try the first personal injury and wrongful death claim related to Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration resulting from electronic throttle control defects. The case is set for Oct. 7, 2013, in the District Court for Oklahoma County, in Oklahoma City, Okla., under Judge Patricia G. Parrish. The case is Bookout / Schwarz v. Toyota. This is the first case set for trial in the United States in which the Plaintiffs allege the SUA was caused by a malfunction of the vehicle’s electronic throttle control system, as well as the lack of a brake override system that would have allowed the driver to slow or stop her vehicle from speeding out of control. The Bookout and Schwarz families are being represented by Beasley Allen lawyer Graham Esdale.

“This case, as it stands now, will be the first personal injury and wrongful death case to go to trial where there’s an allegation of electronic throttle malfunction,” said Beasley Allen Shareholder Graham Esdale. “We are making that claim along with the lack of a brake override claim. We are the first case scheduled to go to trial on both of these issues.”

Esdale was one of the first attorneys in the country to file a lawsuit against Toyota alleging that SUA caused a personal injury and wrongful death.

There are primarily three types of cases ongoing in relation to Toyota SUA. There is Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) consolidated under U.S. District Judge James Selna in Santa Ana, Calif.; a Judicial Council Coordinated Proceeding (JCCP) for California State cases, which was under the direction of Judge Anthony Mohr and is now being overseen by Judge Lee Smalley Edmon of the Los Angeles Superior Court; and individual personal injury, product liability and wrongful death cases, some of which are part of the MDL or the JCCP and others that are being litigated in various state courts.

Do you have a claim?

If you are the owner of a recalled Toyota vehicle, you will automatically be included in the class action lawsuit, should a class be certified. You will be mailed a notice of the lawsuit with further instructions at that time.

Beasley Allen also is handling individual product liability lawsuits for Toyota sudden unintended acceleration claims where deaths and disabling injuries are involved. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or if a loved one has died as the result of unintended acceleration, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us today!