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Toyota Recalling 1.9 Mil Prius Hybrids

Maker cites faulty software.

by on Feb.12, 2014

About 700,000 Prius hybrids sold in the U.S. are covered by the maker's latest recall.

Toyota is recalling 1.9 million Prius Hybrid sedans sold around the world between 2009 and 2014 due to faulty software that could cause the vehicle to stop unexpectedly.

More than a third of the vehicles, 713,000 in all, were sold in the United States, where the Prius has long been the best-selling hybrid in the market. Nearly half, or 917,000 will be recalled in Japan where the Prius has routinely been the best-selling vehicle of all kinds.  The rest of the cars affected by the recall were sold in Europe and other parts of the world.

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Toyota says it has received no reports of injuries or accidents related to the problem. But the risk is that an accident could occur if one of the hybrids were to unexpectedly stall while on the road.


Toyota Nearing Sudden Acceleration Settlement with Feds

Deal may cost maker $1 bil – but avoid criminal prosecution.

by on Feb.10, 2014

Toyota appears to be reaching a settlement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding the unintended acceleration issues that have plagued the maker.

Toyota may soon write a check for more than $1 billion to settle a government investigation related to its sudden acceleration problems, avoiding the possibility of criminal prosecution.

Several media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and the Detroit News, are citing “unnamed sources familiar with the negotiations” to describe what appears to be a deal that would end a four-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The government had been looking into the possibility that Toyota had intentionally misled federal regulators about possible defects involving its vehicles.

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Starting in late 2009, Toyota ordered a series of recalls covering more than 14 million vehicles worldwide for various problems that could potentially cause them to surge out of control. Up to that point, more than 3,000 complaints had been received by both the maker and federal regulators, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) linking the problems to at least five deaths. (more…)

Even as Toyota Settles One Unintended Acceleration Battle – Another Key Lawsuit Goes to Court

Family attorney claims Japanese maker “decided to save a few bucks.”

by on Jul.22, 2013

The crumpled wreck after Noriko Uno's crash.

This story has been revised to reflect revisions to the legal strategy of the Uno family lawyers.

You win some, you lose some.  Well, not quite. But even after winning approval late last week for a $1.63 billion deal to settle one key class action stemming from its unintended acceleration fiasco, Toyota Motor Corp. is now in court facing a separate lawsuit that could prove a serious embarrassment to the Japanese maker – and set the tone for other legal action to follow.

Between late 2009 and early 2010 Toyota was forced to recall more than 10 million vehicles worldwide due to a variety of issues that could potentially cause them to skitter out of control, including sticky accelerator pedals and loose floor mats that could jam a throttle wide open.  Though Toyota was ultimately cleared of claims its products also suffered mysterious electronic gremlins by several federal investigations, the maker faced a rash of litigation connected with the so-called unintended acceleration problem.

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That includes the case of Noriko Uno, a 66-year-old bookkeeper at her family’s Los Angeles sushi bar who was killed when her 2006 Camry unexpectedly launched to speeds of up to 100 mph before slamming into a telephone pole and tree.  Jury selection began in that case today and the showdown in Los Angeles County Superior Court is expected to take as much as two months.


Toyota Settles First of Wrongful Death Lawsuits

by on Jan.22, 2013

Toyota has begun to settle at least some wrongful injury and death claims rather than drag the fight out.

Toyota Motor Co. is pushing to settle a series of wrongful death lawsuits in which the plaintiffs appear to have a solid chance of proving to a jury that unintended acceleration-related design flaws contributed to the accidents.

The company maintains stuck floor mats and driver error are the reasons for vehicles unexpectedly surging out of control, while plaintiffs’ attorneys contend Toyota’s electronic throttle control system is to blame.

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In the first critical step, Toyota has elected to settle a wrongful death suit in Utah. The company said Thursday that it came to terms with the family of two people killed in a Utah crash that was set to go to trial next month and might have served as a test case for hundreds of other lawsuits that are pending.


Toyota Poised to Settle Injury and Death Lawsuits

Maker could put Unintended Acceleration issue behind.

by on Jan.16, 2013

Toyota may soon settle at least some wrongful injury and death claims rather than drag the fight out in court.

Toyota appears to be moving towards settling two high-profile unintended acceleration lawsuits in a bid to put the embarrassing issue to rest – and avoid having potentially damaging go before juries, according to a new report.

The maker announced a tentative, $1.2 billion settlement late last month with a group of owners who had sued alleging the unintended acceleration scandal had reduced the value of their vehicles. But that agreement – since given tentative approval by a federal job in Southern California – did not cover wrongful death and injury cases.

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At least some of those would be covered under a new settlement, said the Los Angeles Times, including two deaths in a horrific 2010 crash in Utah. The world’s largest automaker still faces more than 300 sudden acceleration lawsuits in state and federal courts.


Toyota Reaches $1 Bil Deal in Runaway Cars Case

Deal closes 100s of cases -- but 100s more still unresolved.

by on Dec.27, 2012

Lexus agreed to a record fine this month for delaying the recall of the RX crossover due to unintended acceleration issues.

Toyota Motor Co. has reached a more than $1 billion settlement intended to put an end to 100s of lawsuits stemming from the maker’s problems with unintended acceleration. But Toyota still faces a separate series of lawsuits from those who claim to have been injured by runaway vehicles.

The proposed settlement specifically covers lawsuits filed by owners who alleged that the value of their cars, trucks and crossovers had plummeted substantially as a result of the crisis triggered by a series of revelations and recalls that eventually involved more than 14 million Toyota products worldwide.

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The maker said it also will launch an extended warranty program covering 16 million current owners while also installing additional safety technology on 3.2 million of its vehicles. But in light of other recent recalls that have involved millions more Toyota products it remains unclear if the settlement will be enough to repair the Japanese giant’s once shining image.


Toyota Wins Key Court Case

Maker still faces serious legal battles.

by on Apr.04, 2011

Toyota has emerged victorious from a key court battle in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York, which may be an early indicator of the strength of legal theories behind current unintended acceleration claims against the company.

After deliberating for approximately 45 minutes, a jury delivered a verdict in favor of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. in an alleged unintended acceleration case brought by Dr. Amir Sitafalwalla, who claimed that an unsecured driver’s side floor mat was the primary cause of the crash of his Scion vehicle in August 2005.

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During the course of the week-long trial, Dr. Sitafalwalla’s primary expert, Dr. Anthony Storace, withdrew his assertion that the Electronic Throttle Control System in the Scion could also have been a cause of the accident based on his acknowledgment that he had no basis to support that claim.

Instead, the jury sided with Toyota’s lawyer’s blaming the accident on driver error, which is the most often reason cited by manufacturers for unintended acceleration incidents.


Toyota Asks Court to Toss Unintended Acceleration Lawsuits

by on Nov.02, 2010

Toyota wants a huge lawsuit dismissed/

Toyota has asked a federal court in California to dismiss a collection of lawsuits stemming from the maker’s problems with runaway cars and trucks, claiming the plaintiffs have shown no “actual defect.”

The request, if approved, would impact scores of lawsuits consolidated, earlier this year, by the U.S. District Court of Southern California.  If the court allows the action to continue, however, virtually anyone with a Toyota vehicle equipped with an electronic throttle control system, or ETCS, would be able to join in.

The lawsuits were filed by owners who have not only experienced what they claim was sudden, or unintended, acceleration – in which vehicles reportedly race out of control – but also those who contend that the problem and the recalls Toyota has ordered over the last year have reduced the value of their Toyota vehicles.

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For its part, the maker claims it has identified and resolved the unintended acceleration issue with a pair of recalls – one to deal with loose carpets, the other due to potentially sticky accelerators – and that the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate additional problems.  It has been widely speculated by Toyota’s critics that the maker’s ETCS technology is vulnerable to as yet-unidentified electrical problems.  But Toyota has contended that no such gremlins exist.

“Toyota looks forward to the time when plaintiffs will finally be compelled to specify exactly what is defective in Toyota’s Electronic Throttle Control System,” said Toyota attorney Cari K. Dawson.  “More than a year after filing their first complaint, plaintiffs have not identified a defect and are grasping at straws to make their case.”


Retrial Requested in Minnesota Toyota Homicide

Attorneys want a new jury for imprisoned Minnesota man.

by on Mar.25, 2010

Attorneys for the Minnesota man sentenced in connection with a fatal 2006 crash involving a “runaway” Toyota Camry that killed three people have asked a Minnesota, district judge to grant a new trial.

The petition for a new trial filed in the case, Koua Fong Lee v. State of Minnesota, No. 62-K8-07-000965, includes numerous affidavits from individuals that experienced sudden acceleration in their older model Toyota vehicles, including seven with the same 1996 Toyota Camry model as Mr. Lee.

“On numerous occasions, (Ramsey) County Attorney Susan Gaertner has publicly said if we show her the evidence she will immediately act on it,” says Robert Hilliard from the Texas-based law firm of Hilliard Munoz Guerra.

In June 2006, Mr. Lee was driving his Toyota Camry when it unexpectedly accelerated before crashing into another car and killing Javis Adams, 33, his son Javis Adams Jr., 10, and his niece Devyn Bolton, 7. Mr. Lee was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide in October 2007 and sentenced to eight years in prison.


“Here it is, it is time for her to act. We’ve now given her more than enough evidence to join with us in asking the Court to grant our client an immediate new trial, and we hope they move quickly to release Koua and this time allow a fair trial where the jury hears all of the evidence,” Hilliard claims.    (more…)

Prosecutor to Meet Defense in Toyota Homicide

Camry unintended acceleration resulted in false conviction?

by on Mar.19, 2010

Lee was driving his Camry when it accelerated before crashing into another car and killing 3.

What might be new evidence that could ultimately set free Koua Fong Lee, a Minnesota man sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in a 2006 crash involving a runaway Toyota, will be presented to the Ramsey County assistant prosecutor on Monday.

In June 2006, Lee was driving his Toyota Camry when it accelerated before crashing into another car and killing Javis Adams, 33, his son Javis Adams Jr., 10, and his niece Devyn Bolton, 7.

Mr. Lee was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide in October 2007 and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Attorney Robert Hilliard from the Corpus Christi, Texas-based law firm of Hilliard Muńoz Guerra LLP has been retained by Lee, apparently for his experience in Toyota cases across the country. Hilliard also represents Quincy Adams, whose son and grandson were killed in the crash; as well as Bridgette Trice, whose daughter was killed.


Mr. Lee and his attorneys are seeking to have his case reexamined. Hilliard and other attorneys are meeting with Ramsey County assistant prosecutor Phil Carruthers to discuss the case and present evidence from their investigations.   (more…)