Toyota Agrees to $1.1 Billion Settlement in Class Action Lawsuit
Toyota has agreed to a $1.1 billion settlement in the class action law suit that claims its vehicles accelerate unintentionally and put drivers, passengers, and anyone on the road at risk of an accident, Reuters writes.
As Deepa Seetharaman and Bernie Woodall write for Reuters:
The proposed settlement will compensate customers for economic losses related to possible safety defects in Toyota vehicles, covering most of the litigation involving unintended acceleration, although it does not cover claims for wrongful death or injuries.
About 16 million Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles sold in the United States spanning the model years 1998 to 2010 are covered by the action, according to court filings made public on Wednesday. Thirty nameplates are affected, including the top-selling Toyota Camry midsize sedan and Corolla compact car.
The settlement was filed in federal court in California on Wednesday, and includes no admission of fault or unlawful conduct by Toyota, Mike Ramsey reports in The Wall Street Journal. It allows Toyota to avoid the risks associated with a lengthy trial, Ramsey notes. The tentative agreement must still be approved by U.S. District Judge James Selna, Ramsey writes.
Reuters writes that Toyota, the number-three automaker in the U.S. market, admitted no fault in suggesting the settlement: “This was a difficult decision, especially since reliable scientific evidence and multiple independent evaluations have confirmed the safety of Toyota’s electronic throttle control systems,” Christopher Reynolds, general counsel for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, said in a statement.
It was in August 2009 that unintended acceleration in Toyotas began to get media attention, when an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, Mark Saylor, and three members of his family were killed in a Lexus ES 350 that crashed at a high speed, Reuters writes.
The Wall Street Journal’s Ramsey writes:
For months, lawyers and some safety advocates argued that Toyota’s unintended acceleration problems were caused by defects with its electronic throttle control system.
Initially supporting their claims were data collected by government agencies that showed unintended acceleration events occurred more frequently in Toyotas than any other brand as well as firsthand accounts from drivers who claimed to have acceleration problems that weren’t related to the two recalls.
Toyota maintained all along that the electronic throttle system was not to blame, and reiterated that on Wednesday, blaming poorly fitting floor mats and sticky gas pedals for the problem, Reuters reports, although Toyota President Akio Toyoda made a public apology six months after the crash, after he and other company executives were questioned in a U.S. Congressional hearing.
Reuters writes that a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and NASA found no connection between the reports of unintended acceleration and Toyota’s electronic throttle control system.
According to the settlement agreement filed in court, the terms would include direct payments to customers, plus installation of a brake override system in more than 2.7 million vehicles, Reuters writes. The settlement would include a $250 million fund for former Toyota owners who sold their vehicles at reduced prices, plus a separate $250 million fund for owners whose cars are not eligible for the brake override system.