Toyota Motor Corp has agreed to a $1.1 billion charge to settle hundreds of U.S. consumer claims related to sudden unintended acceleration in its vehicles. The settlement, which is pending approval by U.S. District Judge James Selna, who is overseeing the multidistrict consolidated litigation, 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. These cases are slated for trial in February 2013.
“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.
Toyota Settles Acceleration Claims for Over $1 Billion (Bloomberg)
Toyota Seeks to Settle Acceleration Case for $1.1 Billion (Reuters)
Toyota Settlement the Largest in U.S. History Involving Automobile Defects (Huffington Post)