A class action lawsuit has been filed against Toyota Motor Corp., alleging that the automaker has failed to repair cracking and melting dashboards in its vehicles. It’s also contended that the automaker forced drivers to wait a long time for fixes. It appears that Toyota had promised to address the issue in exchange for a 2014 proposed class action lawsuit over the defect having been dismissed.
The lawsuit was filed last month in a South Carolina federal court by a proposed class of owners who said Toyota failed to honor its promises despite a warranty program launched to fix Lexus and Toyota vehicles affected by the defect. The owners said that the replacement effort faces a backlog because dealers authorized to make the repairs do not have sufficient inventory to address the large number of people facing the issue.
The suit filed by Lexus owner Wendy George arises from the other suit mentioned above filed in a South Carolina federal court in November 2014 by Melissa Graham. It was claimed in the Graham suit that dashboards on Toyota and Lexus vehicles melt in excess heat, creating a glossy film that reduced visibility. Ms. Graham said in her complaint that Toyota issued a service bulletin regarding the problem for 2006 to 2008 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 vehicles in 2011, after many of the owners’ warranties expired. The owners said Toyota knew of a similar issue in the 2006 to 2008 Lexus ES and the 2007 to 2009 Toyota Camry, but failed to release a service bulletin. They said while Toyota knew how to fix the issue, the automaker concealed it from vehicle owners.
Toyota faced at least three other class actions regarding this defect, including one filed in a Florida state court in July 2014, which Toyota had removed to federal court. A U.S. federal judge remanded the case back to state court after those owners argued the removal was an attempt by Toyota to forum shop. Ms. Graham agreed to dismiss her lawsuit in March 2015, after Toyota promised to fix the vehicles free of charge. However, it’s alleged in the George complaint that more than 18 months has passed since the initial notice of the warranty program and that most of affected vehicles remain unfixed.
The Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief, as well as damages and attorneys’ fees. The owners are represented by T. Christopher Tuck, A. Hoyt Rowell III, James L. Ward Jr., Robert S. Wood and Catherine H. McElveen of Richardson Patrick Westbrook & Brickman LLC. The case is George v. Toyota Motor Corp. et al. in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.