Toyota has agreed to settlements in 496 lawsuits over deaths and injuries arising from the unintended-acceleration defect in some of its vehicles. The lawyers told a California federal court that the intensive settlement process is “continuing to make good progress” as they work to resolve personal injury, wrongful death and property damage claims pending in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) and coordinated state proceedings. The 496 agreements – either settlements or agreements to settle – mark 158 more than the 338 settlements disclosed in a July 2015 status report.
Of the total number, 175 are personal injury cases in the MDL and 87 are personal injury cases in the Joint Council Coordination Proceeding (JCCP) in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Of the remaining 12 cases pending in the MDL, all have asked to go through the settlement process, and of the 22 that are still pending in the JCCP, only four have not yet asked to get involved in the process. Four cases in the MDL and one in the JCCP have gone through the entire process and have not resulted in an agreement. Four other cases – two each in the MDL and JCCP – initially didn’t reach a settlement, but returned to the settlement process and were resolved. Toyota also has reached agreements to resolve 234 claims outside of the MDL and JCCP proceedings.
Most of the progress was made outside the MDL and JCCP proceedings. The July 2015 status report listed 146 resolved MDL cases, 60 resolved JCCP cases and 132 cases resolved outside those proceedings. The latest status report last month showed that since then, 29 MDL cases, 27 JCCP cases and 102 outside cases had been resolved in the two years since. The total number of cases in the MDL and JCCP has also grown since 2015, from 171 to 187 and 87 to 109, respectively. The total value of the settlements won’t be known until all the cases are resolved, as each settlement is being negotiated individually. Toyota recalled millions of cars and trucks in 2009 and 2010 after reports of unintended acceleration in several vehicles.
U.S. District Judge James V. Selna has paused all cases involved in the process, requiring them to seek certification from the litigation’s special master to show they complied with all of the process’ requirements before returning to a trial court. In another part of the litigation, Toyota agreed to pay an estimated $1.1 billion to settle claims that the alleged acceleration defect hurt its vehicles’ value. That settlement, which included a proposed class of about 23 million customers, won final approval in July 2013.
The Plaintiffs are represented by Elizabeth J. Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP; Mark P. Robinson Jr. and Donald H. Slavik of Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis Inc.; and Dee Miles of Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles PC. Toyota is represented by John P. Hooper of King & Spalding LLP. The case is In re: Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, (case number 08:10-ml-02151) in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.