As our readers will remember, Toyota Motor Corp. fell into disrepute in a big way back in 2009 and 2010 when they recalled myriads of vehicles due to problems with “sudden, unintended acceleration.” The acceleration problem not only left some Toyota customers injured or dead, but it also left a negative for the company in the marketplace. Recently, Toyota had a settlement offer approved that would cost it $1.63 billion.
According to court documents, every dollar in the $1.63 billion fund will go to plaintiffs. This particular suit deals only with economic claims. Personal injury and wrongful death claims stemming from the unintended acceleration recalls have been consolidated as a class action.
A number of wrongful death cases against Toyota have already been settled. This month, a trial is scheduled in Los Angeles on claims that a 66-year-old woman died as a result of her Toyota Camry crashing into a tree back in 2009.
The trial, one of dozens filed against Toyota, is expected to take roughly two months, and will act as sort of a bellwether in that it will test the strength of the wrongful death claims as a whole. Toyota, for its parts, continues to maintain that there was no defect in the vehicle involved in that accident, and says that unintended acceleration of its vehicles was not due to malfunction of the braking system, ill-fitting floor mats and other problems.
If Toyota loses that case, it will be good news not only for the family of the deceased California woman, but for all those involved in this litigation.
Source: Bloomberg, “Toyota Settlement of Acceleration Cases Wins Approval,” Bill Callahan & Edvard Petterson, July 19, 2013.