US judge dismisses non-U.S. claims against Toyota

Thu Dec 1, 2011 8:50pm EST

* Judge dismissed similar claims in April

* Claims did not trace losses to U.S.-based actions

By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp has won the dismissal of a U.S. lawsuit brought by vehicle owners in 14 other countries who said their Toyotas lost value because of the Japanese automaker's mishandling of alleged unintended acceleration problems.

U.S. District Judge James Selna said the plaintiffs could not bring their claims in a U.S. court, saying they "have not shown that their alleged economic loss is fairly traceable to Toyota Motor Corp's U.S.-based marketing actions."

The plaintiffs included people who bought or leased 27 different Toyota models outside the United States. The ruling means that these people cannot pursue claims against Toyota in the U.S. courts.

Monica Kelly, a lawyer for the Ribbeck Law firm that has been representing the plaintiffs, could not immediately be reached after market hours on Thursday.

Selna had dismissed similar claims in April, but gave the plaintiffs another chance to make their case.

"We are pleased that Judge Selna has now twice ruled in Toyota's favor on this important issue," said Lisa Gilford, a lawyer for Toyota, in a statement.

She added that Toyotas are made in at least 26 countries worldwide, and that the vast majority of models at issue in the lawsuit were not made, designed or sold in the United States.

The world's largest automaker has recalled several million vehicles for problems since late 2009, including stuck gas pedals and floor mat flaws, that owners have linked to unintended acceleration.

The recalls led to hundreds of state and federal lawsuits, including claims over alleged injuries and deaths and "economic loss" claims tied to lost resale value.

Selna, who sits in Santa Ana, California, handles most of the federal cases.

The case is in re:Toyota Motor Corp Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 10-ml-2151.

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