Saturday, December 28, 2013

Toyota Seeks Settlements

This month, Toyota said it would begin negotiations to settle hundreds of pending federal and state lawsuits over the sudden acceleration of its vehicles. Lawyers suing Toyota claim unintended acceleration reports increased after Toyota began equipping vehicles with electronic throttle control via its ETCS-i system. Signals from a sensor detecting how far the gas pedal is pressed control the throttle. An Oklahoma jury recently found a Camry’s electronic throttle system was defective and that Toyota had acted with reckless disregard. Previously, Toyota won sudden-acceleration trials; this being the automaker’s first loss. Reportedly, this verdict likely caused Toyota to pursue settlements in its remaining cases. Negotiations could put an end to a lengthy process that hurt Toyota financially and affected its reputation for quality. Last summer, Toyota agreed to pay $1.6 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by vehicle owners who suffered financial losses. Toyota still faces hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death suits, most of which are consolidated in California. The decision to pursue a comprehensive settlement process will suspend that litigation. Lawyers representing plaintiffs in those cases felt talks would save both sides time and legal costs. Over the past few years, Toyota recalled over ten million Toyota and Lexus vehicles for problems including floor mats that caused the accelerator to become stuck. U.S. District Judge James Selna of Santa Ana issued an order halting the lawsuits. A hearing has been set next month in case 8:10-ml-02151, United States District Court for the Central District of California. See stories here-- and