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California prosecutor to sue Toyota over vehicle problems

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California prosecutor to sue Toyota over vehicle problems

Christine Tierney and David Shepardson / The Detroit News

Prosecutors for California's Orange County filed a civil suit today against Toyota Motor Sales USA because of continuing problems with the company's vehicles.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas' action deals a fresh blow to Toyota, which is struggling to recover from a series of recalls and highly publicized instances of unintended acceleration of its vehicles.

Toyota had no comment. "Toyota has not received the complaint and is not in a position to comment on pending litigation," the company said in a statement.

Legal experts said they were surprised by Rackauckas' suit. "It's very unusual for a product liability matter to turn into a criminal or consumer fraud investigation," said Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor now a partner with McCarter & English in Newark, N.J.

Rackauckas' office said the lawsuit against Toyota Motor Sales, the Japanese automaker's U.S. sales subsidiary, will seek "to enjoin them from continuing to endanger the public through the sale of defective vehicles and deceptive business practices."

Susan Kang Schroeder, a spokeswoman for Rackauckas, said the suit didn't seek an injunction to stop Toyota from selling vehicles but to cease "unfair business practices."

Toyota has recalled more than 6 million vehicles in the United States because of acceleration-related problems in several models. The automaker has recalled 8.5 million vehicles worldwide.

It was ordered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to stop selling vehicles in January while it repaired pedals that could stick.

Ed Higgins, co-head of the product liability practice group at Plunkett Cooney in Detroit, said the county's action was "extremely uncommon."

He said Rackauckas would have to show that products sold by Toyota were so defective that they could cause irreparable injury.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100312/AUTO01/3120412/1148/auto01/California-prosecutor-to-sue-Toyota-over-vehicle-problems#ixzz0i0T7EggL

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THREE major problems I have:

1) They stopped production of the vehicles so they could "attend to the recalls immediately and fix those." But after "fixing" 500,000 vehicles of the 2.3 million affected, they resumed production.

2) It was discovered the "fix" didn't work. They didn't halt production again.


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