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Toyota seeks sudden-acceleration closure after Oklahoma verdict

Less than two months after an Oklahoma jury found that Toyota had acted with ”reckless disregard” in its response to two women injured in a sudden, unintended acceleration crash, the Japanese auto maker has decided to enter an intensive settlement process. The decision to negotiate a settlement hasn’t surprised many following Toyota’s sudden-acceleration saga. Even though it appeared the carmaker had gained some momentum fighting earlier lawsuits brought by crash victims and their families — as well as vehicle owners suffering monetary losses — the jury’s verdict in Oklahoma likely derailed Toyota’s hopes for prevailing over some 300 additional lawsuits ... Read More

New Toyota sudden acceleration lawsuit blames electronic throttle for horrific crash

A lawyer representing the family of a woman who died when her 2009 Toyota Camry sped out of control and sank into a California River hopes the case will be tried as a bellwether case ahead of about a hundred other sudden unintended acceleration lawsuits against Toyota pending litigation in California state courts. The plaintiff’s lawyer believes his client’s case, filed April 18 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, closely parallels the high-profile case of Mark Saylor, a California Highway Patrol officer who was killed with his family in August 2009 after the Lexus he was driving suddenly sped out ... Read More

Toyota recalls 700,000 vehicles for safety repairs

Toyota announced Wednesday that it will begin recalling nearly 700,000 vehicles next month to repair potential safety problems. One recall encompasses about 495,000 Tacoma pickup trucks made in models years 2005 through 2009 and will involve replacing the steering wheel spiral cable assembly. According to Toyota, friction between the spiral cable and the retainer in the steering wheel spiral cable assembly may occur in some of the vehicles, possibly resulting in “loss of connectivity to the driver’s air bag module.” Should the electrical connection be interrupted, the driver’s airbag may be deactivated and fail to deploy during a crash. The ... Read More

Confidential Toyota memo says electronic flaw caused sudden acceleration in test car

An internal Toyota document obtained and translated by CNN demonstrates that engineers testing a pre-production car experienced and noted an instance of “sudden unintended acceleration.” The confidential document, drafted in 2006, was never shared with U.S. officials investigating whether an electronic flaw could be causing Toyota vehicles to suddenly speed out of control. Toyota engineers penned the document, relaying the results of a cruise-control test on a vehicle that would later be sold in Japan and Europe as the Lexus 460. “The cruise control activates by itself at full throttle when the accelerator pedal position sensor is abnormal,” the report says, ... Read More

Judge dismisses first bellwether suit against Toyota over jurisdictional issue

The federal judge overseeing lawsuits filed in federal courts against Toyota for sudden unintended acceleration damages has dismissed the lawsuit previously selected as the first bellwether case, saying it belonged in a Utah State court. In June, Judge James Selna of the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, had chosen a lawsuit involving a Utah crash that killed two people and injured two others as the first of the bellwether cases that will help determine how the rest of the multi-district litigation will proceed. In September, Judge Selna tentatively rejected Toyota’s motion that the case be tossed out. On ... Read More

Electronic causes for sudden acceleration in Toyotas likely, new study finds

An independent study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE) demonstrates that, contrary to NASA’s conclusions, an electronic cause for the sudden unintended acceleration problem in Toyota vehicles is not just probable, but highly likely. In conducting their analysis of Toyota’s engine control systems, CALCE researchers Bhanu Sood, Michael Osterman, and Michael Pecht did agree with NASA scientists who found that “tin whiskers” were present in the accelerator pedal units of every potentiometer they examined. But whereas NASA relied on an analysis of warranty data provided by Toyota’s defense expert Exponent to ... Read More

Earthquakes force Toyota to slow production in plants worldwide

The earthquakes that rocked Japan last month continue to send aftershocks through the Japanese economy. Toyota Motor Corp., already fighting to restore its image in the midst of sudden-acceleration complaints, record-breaking safety recalls, and federal fines, is now firmly engaged in a battle to maintain its production after the quake ruined critical links in its supply chain. Toyota said that it will have to stop production in several plants in Japan and worldwide for days at a time until supply and distribution links are restored to normal levels. Like other automakers, Japan relies on a network of domestic and global ... Read More

Judge approves $10-million Toyota settlement, dealership left to fend for itself

A California Superior Court judge has approved the $10-million settlement between Toyota Motor Corp. and members of a family that was killed when their rented Lexus ES350 sped out of control near San Diego, California, and crashed. The decision leaves Bob Baker Lexus, the company that loaned Mark Saylor and his family the doomed car while theirs had been submitted for maintenance, to fend for itself against unresolved negligence and wrongful death claims the Saylor estate has made. Saylor, a California Highway Patrol officer, his wife, her brother, and the Saylor’s 13-year-old daughter were traveling on a highway outside of ... Read More

First Toyota sudden unintended acceleration cases will be tried in 2013

The first lawsuits filed in federal courts against Toyota will be tried as belwether cases sometime during the first quarter of 2013, Judge James Selna of U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, announced yesterday. Judge Selna asked plaintiffs’ lawyers to be prepared to select the belwether cases, which will serve as test cases to determine how the rest of the litigation will proceed. More than 100 lawsuits against Toyota filed in federal courts across the country were consolidated last April for pretrial proceedings and assigned to Judge Selna, whose courtroom is located near Toyota’s North American headquarters in Torrance. ... Read More

Guilty to the max: Toyota closes 2010 with 2 more maximum federal fines

Once again, Toyota is pushing the limits and surpassing other car manufacturers, but not in a good way. The company has agreed to pay an additional $32.425 million in civil penalties after two separate investigations into its handling of auto recalls found the automaker failed to comply with federal law, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Monday. The two fines are the maximum allowable by law. Toyota will pay $16.375 million in one case involving floor mat entrapment and sudden unintended acceleration issues, and $16.050 million in the other case for withholding critical safety information from U.S. authorities, apparently to avoid ... Read More