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Toyota moves to toss sudden-acceleration suits

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Toyota moves to toss sudden-acceleration suits

Associated Press

Santa Ana, Calif. -- Toyota Motor Corp. has moved to dismiss hundreds of lawsuits over claims stemming from sudden acceleration in its vehicles.

The auto giant filed a motion Tuesday with a federal court in Santa Ana, saying attorneys for Toyota drivers had failed to identify any defects in the vehicles.

Hundreds of lawsuits were filed against Toyota after the automaker began recalling millions of vehicles because of acceleration problems in several models and brake glitches with the Prius hybrid.

All of the federal cases were consolidated and assigned to a federal judge in Santa Ana.

Some plaintiffs claimed Toyota's electronic throttle control system has a defect.

On Tuesday, lawyers for Toyota said there was no evidence of a flaw.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100915/AUTO01/9150386/1148/auto01/Toyota-moves-to-toss-sudden-acceleration-suits#ixzz0zbha7Vx8

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Toyota Urges U.S. Judge to Throw Out Lawsuits Over Sudden Acceleration

By Joe Schneider - Sep 15, 2010 1:35 AM CT

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Toyota Motor Corp. recalled its 2010 model Prius hybrid car to repair a problem with the vehicle's braking system. Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg

Toyota Motor Corp. urged a U.S. judge to dismiss lawsuits over sudden acceleration claims saying they’re based on anecdotes and fail to identify any specific defects in the vehicles.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, faces more than 300 federal and state lawsuits including proposed class actions over economic losses and claims of personal injuries or deaths related to allegations the vehicles suddenly accelerated and couldn’t be stopped.

“Plaintiffs infer negligence and strict liability on the part of Toyota based on unsubstantiated circumstantial information,” the automaker said in papers filed in federal court in Santa Ana, California, Sept. 13.

The automaker, based in Toyota City, Japan, has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide in the past year for defects including pedals that stuck or snagged on floor mats.

A hearing on Toyota’s request to dismiss the lawsuits is scheduled for Nov. 19 in Santa Ana.

Shiori Hashimoto, a spokeswoman for the automaker in Tokyo couldn’t immediately comment on the papers.

Toyota rose 3.8 percent in Tokyo to close at 3,010 yen.

The consumers claim that Toyota knew of problems related to sudden acceleration as early as 2003.

An unidentified Toyota employee “requested immediate action,” after investigating an allegation of unintended acceleration, lawyers for consumers suing the company said in a court filing. “We are also much afraid of frequency of this problem in near future,” the technician wrote in a May 2003 field report cited in the suit.

Consumer Lawsuits

The consumer lawsuits, which have been combined for pretrial filings and rulings in Santa Ana, claim that Toyota drove down the value of vehicles by failing to fix or disclose defects leading to unintended acceleration.

“Toyota has consistently marketed its vehicles as safe and proclaimed that safety is one of its highest corporate priorities,” consumer lawyers said in an amended complaint, citing documents provided to U.S. regulators and Congress. “The defects causing unintended acceleration have caused defective vehicles’ values to plummet.”

Toyota’s claims to the quality and safety of its vehicles were opinions and the company can’t be held liable for misrepresentation, Toyota said. The automaker also had no exclusive knowledge of defects, Toyota said in the court papers.

“Plaintiffs’ recitation of the public record is just that - public and available to plaintiffs and others,” Toyota said.

The consumer cases are combined as In re Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, 8:10-ml-02151, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).



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By Mark Kleis

Toyota Motor Corp. has requested a U.S. judge to dismiss hundreds of lawsuits concerning unintended acceleration cases based on the argument that the cases are relying purely on anecdotes and fall short of actually naming specific causes and/or defects in the vehicles.

The embattled automaker is currently named in over 300 lawsuits just involving unintended acceleration, but Toyota aims to eliminate most - if not all lawsuits when it meets with a judge on November 19th, according to Bloomberg. This is based on the paperwork Toyota filed earlier this week to the same court, saying, "Plaintiffs infer negligence and strict liability on the part of Toyota based on unsubstantiated circumstantial information."

Many of the lawsuits claim that Toyota knew of the dangers and problems associated with the nearly 10 million vehicles recalled for various unintended acceleration issues long before the recalls were ever issued, some even suggesting the automaker knew as early as 2003. This is based on evidence that a Toyota employee filed for "immediate action" by the automaker back in 2003.

Toyota not the only party to lose money from the negative press

As if the nearly countless lawsuits concerning unintended acceleration were not enough, Toyota also faces a myriad of consumer-based lawsuits which have been consolidated into a single case. This now-single case alleges that Toyota misled buyers by touting their commitment to safety, while continuing to ignore safety-related issues. As a result, buyers are left with vehicles that have suffered higher than anticipated drops in resale value.

So far, Toyota's primary defense to the claims naming resale value as the problem is that the information concerning the problems was not exclusive to Toyota, and as such, as available to consumers as well. "Plaintiffs' recitation of the public record is just that - public and available to plaintiffs and others," Toyota said.



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Toyota is not going to get off the hook that easy. In fact, all of their squirming around is only digging the hook in deeper.

I agree with you 100%

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