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Justice Dept. Confirms Toyota Settlement – Maker Will Take $1.2 Bil Hit

“Car owners have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe.”

by on Mar.19, 2014

Motorists "have a right to expect their vehicle is safe," said Attorney General Holder, adding that Toyota intentionally misled the public.

Declaring that “car owners …have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today announced a settlement of a long-running investigation into Toyota’s handling of a series of problems linked to a number of deaths and injuries and the eventual recall of more than 10 million vehicles.

The maker has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle the criminal investigation and will follow up on a number of steps it has already taken to ensure that it no longer delays responding to possible safety problems. That includes setting up rapid-response teams to quickly investigate customer concerns.

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The settlement comes just as the Justice Department begins an investigation into General Motors’ handling of a recall involving defective ignition switches that have been linked to at least 12 deaths.

“When car owners get behind the wheel, they have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe,” said Holder, during a news conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning. “Toyota violated that basic compact.”

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Toyota Set to Pay $1 Bil to Settle With US Justice Dept.

Feds end one criminal probe as they launch another targeting GM.

by on Mar.19, 2014

Toyota recalled over 10 million vehicles due to potential unintended acceleration problems.

Toyota is expected to pay $1 billion to settle a criminal investigation launched by the U.S. Justice Department into how the maker handled recalls linked to its problems with unintended acceleration nearly five years ago.

Both the Justice Dept. and the FBI had been looking to see whether the Japanese giant had intentionally misled federal safety regulators after it began receiving complaints that some of its vehicles could surge out of control unexpectedly. The automaker eventually recalled more than 10 million vehicles in the U.S. and millions more worldwide. It has also spent billions more to settle various lawsuits and to repair those vehicles.

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The settlement comes just as the Justice Dept. ramps up a preliminary investigation into how General Motors has handled the recall of 1.6 million vehicles equipped with faulty ignition switches. That service action – now linked to at least 12 deaths – was announced just last month, but an internal GM timeline indicates the maker first saw indications of the problem as early as 2001.

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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.

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Toyota Pays $29 Mil for Poorly-Handled Recalls

Settles with 29 states for delayed response to unintended acceleration problems.

by on Feb.15, 2013

The Lexus RX400h was covered by the latest unintended acceleration safety recall.

In the latest development involving Toyota’s problems with so-called unintended acceleration, the maker has agreed to pay $29 million as part of a settlement with the attorneys-general in 29 states while also improving the way it handles future recalls.

The automaker will also set aside another $5 million to help reimburse owners of various Toyota Motor Co. products who were affected by those recalls to cover costs for rental cars, taxi rides and other replacement transportation.

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Toyota has already paid a series of record fines levied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a result of its handling of recalls linked to a series of problems that could cause its vehicles to surge out of control. Since the first of those recalls – involving issues such as carpet entrapment and sticky accelerators – was launched in 2009, more than 10 million vehicles have been affected.

“Car buyers deserve the assurance that manufacturers will quickly and appropriately respond to known safety risks,” Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said. “The terms of this settlement require that Toyota make changes to improve its responsiveness to safety issues, and that benefits consumers.”

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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.

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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.

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Toyota Again Topped Recall List in 2012

Overall industry tally rose 4.5% last year.

by on Jan.08, 2013

Toyota paid a record fine for illegally delaying the recall of the Lexus RX line last year.

For the third time in four years, Toyota Motor Corp. recalled more vehicles than any other automaker operating in the U.S. market during 2012.

Toyota’s various safety-related service actions involved a total of 5.3 million cars, trucks and crossovers last year, nearly half of those in a single recall involving potential vehicle fires.  That problem pushed the Japanese giant past Honda, which led the recall list in 2011 and came in second in 2012 with 3.9 million vehicles involved in such safety campaigns.

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But the industry, on the whole, called back 16.2 million vehicles last year, a list that also included motorcycles, trucks and RVs. That was a 4.5% increase over 2011, according to a study of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data by the Detroit News.

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Approval of Toyota Settlement Doesn’t End Unintended Acceleration Nightmare

Maker still faces potential billions in claims for injuries, deaths.

by on Dec.31, 2012

Will Toyota settle the remaining unintended acceleration cases to keep pictures like this crash scene out of the headlines?

A federal judge in suburban Los Angeles has given his preliminary approval to a settlement estimated to be worth as much as $1.4 billion in a collection of cases involving the unintended acceleration of Toyota Motor Co. products – but the deal only resolves what one observer described as the “easy” part of the litigation facing the Japanese giant.

If given the court’s final okay sometime next year, the agreement would resolve claims that the unintended acceleration problems led to a sharp decline in the value of Toyota vehicles.

But it does not resolve scores of additional claims filed by those who allege they were injured during “runaway car” crashes or on behalf of others who were killed.

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The new Toyota settlement resolves “an economic value lawsuit,” stresses Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting.  And while that may involve the majority of the lawsuits Toyota was facing, he notes it’s “the highly emotional lawsuits yet to be heard.  And when you start parading in front of a jury grizzly images of people injured or killed that makes for great headlines.”

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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.

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Toyota Pays Record Fine for Recall Delay

Fourth big penalty for Japanese maker for delaying safety campaign.

by on Dec.18, 2012

Lexus will pay a record fine for delaying the recall of nearly 150,000 RX models due to an unintended acceleration-related problem.

In a further blow to its well-honed image of quality, reliability and safety, Toyota has confirmed it will have to pay a record $17.35 million fine for delaying yet another recall related to unintended acceleration problems.

The news comes even as the Japanese giant heads towards the end of the year in a dubious race with rival Honda to see who will have the most vehicles recalled due to safety problems for all of 2012.

The latest fine marks the fourth time since 2010 that Toyota has had to shell out the maximum allowable penalty for delaying recalls.  Three years ago, fines levied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration totaled $48.8 million – but that covered three separate recalls in which Toyota failed to act in a timely manner on a known safety defect, as required by U.S. law.

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According to a five-page draft agreement uncovered by the Detroit News, Toyota now will not only have to pay $17.35 million for delaying the recall of 154,000 Lexus RX crossovers last June but it will also have to hold monthly meetings related to safety issues.  It will also have to make significant internal reforms.

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