We reported earlier this week about the recent hearings pertaining to the pending lawsuits against the auto manufacturer Toyota. Toyota models have reportedly spontaneously accelerated while drivers were traveling on the roadways. This serious defect resulted in injuries and fatalities across the nation, leading to the consolidation of wrongful death and personal injury claims for all plaintiffs injured by Toyota models. Judge Selna, sitting on the California Federal District Court, ruled last week that class action status would not be available for out-of-state plaintiffs who neither live nor were injured in California. Selna opined that it is not the purpose of the judicial system for injured parties to “forum shop” and file claims in states with favorable consumer protection laws, such as California.
In the most recent Toyota news, the first personal injury/wrongful death trial is set for February, 2013; nearly one and one-half years away. This first case involves a wrongful death action filed on behalf of a Utah couple who were tragically killed by the spontaneous acceleration defect. The second trial is set for May 21, 2013. The February trial pertains to a November, 2010 crash in Utah involving a 2008 Toyota Camry that crashed into a wall.
Judge Selna speculated that the pending litigation against Toyota could cost the manufacturer upwards of $3 billion.
A Toyota spokesperson is pleased that the first case heard will deal with the “pivotal” issue of an “unnamed, unproven defect in Toyota vehicles….” as every pending case against Toyota rests upon this issue. Toyota went on to state “in our view, a decision on this core claim and the related causation issues will greatly speed the entire [multi-district litigation]. We…remain confident that scientifically reliable and admissible evidence will demonstrate that no defect exists in our electronic throttle control systems.”
Millions of Toyota vehicles were recalled in 2009 after multiple claims of sudden acceleration, accidents and injuries. The corporation then proceeded to unreasonably delay in issuing recalls and has since been the target of federal fines and a Congressional investigation.
An investigation into the spontaneous acceleration claims by NASA and the National Highway Safety Commission revealed that the only reason for the acceleration was either a sticking gas pedal or a jammed floor mat.