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Toyota Reaches $1 Billion Settlement over Unintended Acceleration Cases
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Automaker Toyota has reached a $1 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over the company’s handling of consumer complaints related to unintended vehicle acceleration. CNN reported the agreement would be announced this week, and Toyota is expected to avoid criminal charges.

A Toyota spokeswoman told CNN, “Toyota has cooperated with the U.S. attorney’s office in this matter for more than four years During that time, we have made fundamental changes to become a more responsive and customer-focused organization and we are committed to continued improvements.”

  
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For the last four years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan had been investigation allegations that Toyota had misled U.S. authorities after consumer complaints were made about unintended acceleration in its vehicles. As a result of the complaints, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles since 2009. The company has already paid more than $1 billion last year to resolve claims related to the recall.

The potential settlement was first reported by the Wall Street Journal which mentioned, according to its sources, that the settlement would allow Toyota to avoid criminal charges and that an independent monitor will be appointed to manage Toyota’s compliance with the terms of the settlement.

Currently, hundreds of civil lawsuits are pending in the matter and the company is still under an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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The “sudden acceleration” issue gained public attention when in 2009 an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer and his family were killed in a crash. The cause was believed to be the gas pedal getting stuck under the floor mat of the car. The officer made desperate calls to 911 prior to the crash and pleaded for advice on how to stop the car. The car went up to 120 mph, then flew off the road and burst into flames, instantly killing everyone inside.

Following the investigations, Toyota recalled more than 10 million vehicles globally, even though the automaker continues to deny any fault in its systems, and pins blame on driver error or sticky gas pedals.





 

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