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Toyota Braces for Lawsuits
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The Toyota Motor Corp. is getting ready to face three different trials in 2013, according to a judge in the Santa Ana, California federal court. The cases, while still some time away, could have serious repercussions for the automaker, should they be successful. The claims regard issues of sudden-acceleration in the Toyota vehicles.

The first trial, which is set to begin on Feb. 19 of 2013, will cover the claims that were made by the families of two of the victims of a fatal car crash that occurred in Utah in 2010. The lawsuit, which was previously thrown out of court on jurisdictional grounds, has since been reinstated. The family has since filed its claim in the correct venue, according to a ruling by U.S. District Judge James V. Selna. Another wrongful death case regarding the same issue is also set for November of 2013.

  
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In addition the other scheduling tat Judge Selna made was over claims of economic loss that have been tied to the same unintended acceleration issue. Though the judge did mention that he would be likely to limit the scope of the economic loss case only to claims from car owners in three states. “I doubt I would add another state to any class-action,” Selna said during the hearing while he was telling the lawyers to decide which three states to choose for trial in the economic-loss trial. That trial is set to begin in July of 2013.

The economic suit will be filed on behalf of all car owners in a state. The claim asserts that the Toyota Motor Corp. Intentionally drove down their vehicles when they failed to disclose the fact that vehicles had these defects, this problem was also made worse by the fact that the company did not choose to repair any of the vehicles in question as well.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers are hoping the include cases from the following states: California, New York and Florida. The lawyers choose those states because they have more liberal consumers laws to contend with. Lawyers for Toyota Corp. are hoping instead to choose Georgia, Ohio and Illinois, each of which has laws that are significantly friendlier to the company than the consumer. At this point there is no way to know which state, and its economic laws, are going to be applied to the economic loss case. Though this decision could have a significant effect of the outcome of the suit.

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At the current moment the company has not admitted to the fact that the acceleration defect actually exists. One Toyota representative, Celeste Migliorem told a reporter in an email that the plaintiffs “still have not identified any supposed defect in Toyota’s electronic throttle control system, and they have advanced no reliable scientific theory or proof to support any such defect claim in any Toyota vehicle, much less in all of them…”

These three current cases are being used as bellwether trials. They were selected by the courts, and lawyers from both sides, in order to test the evidence and liability theories in this case.





 

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