Toyota is the latest car manufacturer to face hundreds of lawsuits for faulty mechanisms in its vehicles. The plaintiffs maintain that they suffered death or personal injury from a defect that caused their cars to accelerate without any warning. The defect also caused the cars to depreciate in value.
The defect was first addressed by a wave of class action lawsuits in various parts of the country. In response to the litigation, Toyota issued a massive recall of the affected cars for involuntary acceleration starting in 2009. A plaintiff in Oklahoma brought a wrongful death suit claiming that the acceleration defect was actually the result of a flaw in the electronics, and not the consequence of loose-fitting floor mats or sticky pedals, as alleged by Toyota. The plaintiff recovered for wrongful death. Following that lawsuit, Toyota began settling hundreds of similar claims rather than litigating the remaining cases in court.
The personal injury claims resulting from unintentional acceleration were handled in an “intensive” settlement process initiated by Toyota that began in 2014. At that time, 145 cases were settled and the attorneys continue to negotiate settlements with the plaintiffs represented by plaintiff’s attorneys. The goal of this “Intensive Settlement Process” was to monitor the disposition of each case as guidance for settling other claims. This procedure was created to resolve future claims arising from the defect including personal injury, wrongful death and property damage from the cars.
As a result of these settlement negotiations, Toyota has settled 496 cases as of November, 2017. Of these settlements, 175 were for personal injuries in the multi-district litigation. In addition, 200 other cases have been settled separately.
Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is a legal process that involves multiple lawsuits filed by numerous parties. These claims are consolidated to simplify and streamline pre-trial proceedings, such as discovery. These claims can be referred back to the courts from which they originated for trial. In contrast, a class action lawsuit entails one lawsuit brought by a large group that has experienced a common harm by the same defendant. The parties unite their claims into a single legal action.
If you or someone you know suffered a serious injury or death due to a defective vehicle, please contact the Alexander Law Group, LLP immediately to discuss your rights. Call 888.777.1776 right now, for a free, confidential, and personal consultation with one of our attorneys or contact us online.